Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm A Goddamn Rock Star: NaNoWriMo Winner!

So I did it. I finished the National Novel Writing Month challenge and wrote an entire novel in 30 days.

The Book of Strangers topped out at 51, 791 or 191 pages. More of a novella really. Some of it is pretty maudlin and it'll probably take me close to 6 months to revise it and expand it into a draft worth of sending out, but by god I'm so proud of myself I can't believe it.

And of course I'm behind in ALL my other work and going into the holiday season at that but I've learned a tremendous amount about myself and my writing process during this journey, namely:

1) I can quite easily churn out 6 pages a day in 1-1.5 hours sessions;
2) I have spent way too much time over thinking things lo these past 34 (almost 35) years;
3) I'm a much easier person to be around when I'm actively writing.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Depression = Sadness? Maybe not....

So I was in the middle of reading a NYTimes article on suicide among the elderly when I came across the most fantastic word in relation to a discussion on depression.

The writer (Jane Brody) notes that most people think depression is about being sad when its really about anhedonia--the inability to enjoy life.

Depressed people aren't necessarily sad, they’re irritable. Cranky. Hard to get along with.

Now, as someone who has deal with depression more than she'd like to admit, I have to say I've never heard a more accurate depiction. It is true: at my worst I felt so uncomfortable in my skin and so incapable of enjoying anything that I pushed everyone away.

And I've seen other people in my life do that same thing. It's no easier being on the other end of it.

Luckily for me I seem to have found some sort of formula: working out, yoga, eating well, sleeping well. And acupuncture, actually. That's been a godsend for anxiety and stress relief.

At any rate, take a look at Ms. Brody's article. And when you're done, call your Grandpa or Dad. See how he's doing.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

2 Years of Blogging...

Today is my two year blog anniversary. That's right: it all started November 28, 2005.

Plus, I won a blog award from the lovely Martha.

You're supposed to list the three qualities you think are important for good quality writing, so here goes:

1) an excellent grasp of grammar and an extensive vocabulary
2) an firm grasp of dramatic timing
3) insight into human behavior

And here are my five choices:

Boho Girl
Superhero Designs
Wannabe Hippy
Jen Grey

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

And Nobody Said A Word

Today, in NYSC I overheard one trainer say to another, while pointing at his uber-plastic thirtysomething female client:

"Isn't she great? I made her from a kit."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Has NY Turned Me Into A Meanie?

So our friend Mark observed while he was here that the energy (no he didn't really use that word, that's my edit) is much more hostile here on the East Coast than it is in California. He's right, of course.

But it got me to thinking today about the ways in which that energy has seeped into me, ways in which I might have absorbed this hostile culture. And you know that I think sometimes I am mean. Maybe not directly to other people, but certainly in the judgments and assumptions I make. I'm even harsh in judgments I make about myself.

So that's the first resolution on deck for January 1. And I'll start now, actually: to be nicer, to be kinder, in my thinking and in my actions.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

And? I rock.

I hit page 162 this morning.

So our friend Mark loves this computer strategy game called Civilization and over our Catskills vacation he played for quite some time.

Thanksgiving afternoon, upon hearing that Rod was upstairs taking a nap, Mark headed up to do the same.

I was writing at the dining room table.. eeking out that day's 6 pages... when I heard him pause halfway up and then shuffle back down to the living room.

"Well, maybe I'll play a little bit of civilization," I heard him mutter.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Back in Brooklyn

We just got back to our apartment and I have to say my cats are jerks. The mess they made!

Now Rod's on his way to the gym and Mark's engrossed in one of the Harry Potter books. And me? I'm procrastinating before I do my daily writing thing. (Yes: I did manage to keep churning out 6 pages a day while we were away and am now on page 150! 7 more days to go...)

Tonight we're going out for dinner then maybe over to Magnetic Field to see The Mighty Fine. I'm taking my camera and hopefully I'll remember to snap some pictures...

I actually do have some from our extended weekend up-state but that'll have to wait until later this week. Primarily because I have to crop & filter the pix but also because I can't find the cord that connects the camera to my trusty laptop.

Add another week of novel-writing, three freelance projects, an acupuncture appointment and another session with the reproductive endocrinologist and you've got a week from hell for little old Minerva Jane.

But all that can wait until Monday. Today and tomorrow are still vacation days and after I write I think I may just take a nap before dinner.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Whenever Possible We Added Butter

Last night was an extravaganza of eating and drinking.

Mark and Rod made the first course: sweet potato gnocchi with sage butter sauce, marinated beed, and tomato-basil-mozzerella salad with meier lemon flavored olive oil.


Next we had turkey (brined overnight, of course) with sausage cornbread stuffing, candied yams, potatos with garlic, homemade cranberry sauce, gravy and asparagus with hollandaise sauce.

Dessert: chocolate pecan pie with ice cream.

A different wine with every course...

This morning I had a food hang-over but wasn't feeling so bad that I didn't sneak a forkful of pie while Mark and Rod were loooking the other way.

Next week I'm going on a tofu and veggie cleansing diet, though, because I'm going to get way too fat if I keep eating like this.

All in all, though, one of the best thanksgivings yet.

Am I grateful to have a husband and best friend this cool? You bet your life I am.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

People Never Cease To Amaze You

You'd really have to know these two women to appreciate just how much this tickles me, but my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are volunteering at a soup kitchen all day tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pecan Pie

So I decided: no apple. It's chocolate pecan pie all the way baby! I've never made one before, but I'm excited to try. Anybody have any tips? I'm baking it tomorrow up at the Catskills cabin we rented...

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Monday, November 19, 2007

SF Mark!

He's in a cab en route from Newark Intl Airport as we speak. The apartment is clean and the scented candles are burning away. A bottle of wine decanted and some cheese and crackers.

The annual Friends Thanksgiving retreat begins. We leave for the Catskills on Wednesday.

Now all I have to do is make sure I get up a good hour or two before everyone else every day to make the day's writing requirement.

I've got 11 days left and boy am I feeling the final stretch.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Novel

I hit page 118 today. So that means 32,530 words in 18 days. Prety cool, huh?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Michael Neithardt's Jeffrey @ The 4th Annual Big Apple Film Festival

This afternoon Rod and I are heading over to the Big Apple Film Festival to take a look at his friend Michael Neithardt's short film, Jeffrey.

I'm pretty excited about it because although Michael's a long-time television commercial producer--most recently with Stardust Studios--this is his first foray into acting. Can't wait to see what he's come up with...

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Who Knew? Richard Russo's A Ham

I'm reading Straight Man for this new book group I just joined and I ran across one of the funniest lines I've read in a long time...

"Never was a man dressed as a woman more full of joie de vivre than Finny off his meds." (page 62).

Mark my words, folks: when this National Novel Writing Month is over, I'm writing a short story with that sentence as a first line.

And if you haven't read Straight Man yet--do so. Think Chabon's Wonderboys meets Kingsley Amis' Lucky Jim meets Roth's Portnoy's Complaint. It's making me exceedingly happy right now.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

You know what I think would be the coolest job ever? Naming colors for home renovation products. I mean take a look at two of the new 2007 colors for Avonite's solid surface counter tops (yes: every once in a while I actually have to do some work for money. Stupid world):

martian sunset; cosmic penny; silver comet.

Isn't that delicious? I can just see myself, colors watches and samples array around me, picking the most fantabulous names I can conjure.


In another life, maybe...

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Diseases With Awesome Sounding Names

A week or two ago when I was waiting at Quest Diagnostics to give my million vials of blood, I looked on the Diagnostic Test order form the reproductive endocrinologist gave me and noticed the coolest sounding disease ever:

Maple Syrup Urine Disease.

How cool is that? I mean the name, not the disease. I'm sure that part sucks.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wishing Harder Than I Ever Have Before

I just finished reading Boho Girl's post about her fertility journey and it brought tears to my eyes. If you don't know about this delicious blog, boy have you been missing something.

And you know what? I'm going to come right out and say it: I've got over a week to wait, but I'm wishing so hard this month I'm sure the whole universe can feel it.

Cross your fingers, everybody. Not just for me, but for all of us.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

A Biblical Feast @ Brooklyn's Miriam

Last week after yoga Rod and I went out to dinner with our friends Dawn & John. There's this Israeli restaurant that we'd tried once before and, since our friends hadn't been there yet, we decided to try it that night.

I thought after my 2+ years in NYC and countless visits to San Fran that I'd seen every kind of restaurant permutation there was.

Not so...

Miriam's is located on Court Street here in Brooklyn and the decor is so Bedouin-chic I felt instantly at home.

Imagine my surprise, though, when I opened the menu to discover the night's choices.

Entitled "November Biblical Feast," they were featuring recipes like Ezekiel bread, Jacob's Stew and Jesus' Grilled Fish.

Weird. But wait: it got weirder still.

Each dish--from Appetizer to Entree--on this special menu was accompanied by a passage from the bible.

Ezekiel Bread: "Take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and emmer. Put them into one vessel and bake them into bread." - Ezekiel 4:9

Jesus' Grilled Fish: "And as soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon and bread... Jesus then cometh and taketh bread and giveth them, and fish likewise." John 21: 9-14.

The passage for Jacob's stew is too long for me to re-type, but you get the drift.

Now is it just me, or is that one of the weirdest things you've seen? I mean the passages aren't really enlightening or anything--just sort of descriptive.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

And That's Another Thing

Page 74 folks, page 74....

Just about half way done.

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The Annoying Inconsistencies of HBO's Tell Me You Love Me

1) The young nympho keeps answering her cell phone while working the line at that chichi restaurant. This totally wouldn't happen... Touches her germy phone then goes right back to handling food? Maybe in a Dennys but not in an upscale place. I did believe she'd have sex after hours on the counter, though. Because when there's no one there to see what you're doing who doesn't break the rules just a little? Especially that chick with the cheating and obsessive sex.

2) The couple trying to conceive: one episode she took something like eight or nine pregnancy tests in a row which meant she mut have had an endless supply of pee. Totally wouldn't happen that way. I don't know about you all but even when I drink tons of water it usually takes at least an hour or so for my bladder to fill back up again.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Things You Didn't Know You Could Do

I've written 68 pages in the last ten days.

No idea if this crap is any good, but still feeling pretty proud of myself.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Paying Down the Debt?

I saw an interview with Dan Rather the other day (don't ask me on which channel or show because I can't for the life of me remember) talking about the Summer of Love and the cultural revolution of the 60s era. And he said something pretty funny. How those kids smoking pot openly in the Haight the summer of '69 are now the aging aged adults shopping the organic aisle, checking every last ingredient.

Think that's true? Do you think that the degree that you're into organics is directly proportionate to the amount of drugs you've done? Because even though I'm into the whole organic/local food and yoga and healthy living thing (I'm channeling positive energy as we speak) I have to admit there is a sense that I'm trying to compensate for damage I did to my body in my 20s. (Oh the melodrama of the 23 year-old poet! Red wine and cigarettes and angst galore! I even dyed my hair black and clothed myself in somber colors. Luckily, there are few pictures.)

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Acupuncture Eliminates Woman's Fear Of Needles

Used to be I was terrified of needles and giving blood caused a lot of anxiety. But these past few weeks of going to acupuncture seem to have at least one positive side effect: I can give blood without fear! I went over to Quest Diagnostics to have the first in a series of blood tests performed yesterday and I swear it was over in like five minutes. And I only felt queasy for about two seconds when I accidentally looked down and saw all those vials of my own blood lying there on the table.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In Arm & Hammer We Trust

Rod and I have three cats. We used to have four, but we sent Jubilee down to live at my parents farm last Christmas. Still, having three means that litter, food, and feline care are continually fascinating topics of conversation for us here in Brooklyn.

Last month before our trip down to Charlottesville for the Foundation For Cancer Research & Education board meeting we realized we didn't have enough Arm & Hammer specially formulated for multiple cat households (we're a demographic!) and so ran down to the Bodega on the corner of Henry & Atlantic to get a giant bag of Tidy Cats.

Boy was that dumb.

Because this stupid litter has no clumping ability and tracks everywhere so every time one of my long-haired feline babies climbs out of the box they spill the stuff everywhere.

So this morning, at Tazza, over coffee witness the following exchange:

Him: That litter sucks.

Me: I had to vacuum four times yesterday.

Him: Well, now we know better. We'll never buy anything but Arm & Hammer again.

Me: [Nodding but more interested in my Chai latte than the cats]

Rod: The thing is I think the Arm & Hammer clumps even look kind of pretty. They're perfectly round with a little indentation on the top... [Staring wistfully into his coffee.]

Me: You realize that's just hardened pee...

And that right there is one of the reasons I'm the luckiest woman in the world: I've got a husband who can find pleasure in the smallest things and beauty in the strangest places.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Lower East Side on A Monday Night

So we went to live band karaoke last night at Arlene's Grocery with our friend Craig. Too much fun was had for a Monday night and I'm dragging all day today. Each task has taken twice as long as it ought to.

As for NaNoWriMo, I've been rewriting the same sentence over and over and can't seem to get into the narrative I've started. Somehow the characters all seem despondent and all too willing to stare off into space. And my paying work? Sheesh. Gonna have to be up late tonight to pull all this off.

Oh, we also went to Katz's deli, which was just wrong. (I'm fatter already.)

They still have all these signs up with the slogan "Senda salami to your boy in the army," left over from a promotion during World War II. And as far as I can tell the decor hasn't really changed all that much since then either. But boy was that reuben good.)

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Monday, November 05, 2007

East Versus West

I’ve been going to an acupuncturist for fertility treatments since the beginning of October.

Yes, that means Rod and I have been trying to conceive. Unsuccessfully so far.

I decided to start doing acupuncture after eleven straight months of a roller-coaster ride of hope and dejection. (Week before my period=giddy hope. Day of my period=despair coupled with strange compulsion to eat multiple bowls of chocolate-covered ice cream.)

“What?” you say. “You’re not supposed to go worry until you’ve been trying for at least a year!”

True. If you’re under 35. And most importantly true if your menstrual cycle is regular—ie within only few days variation each month.

But I’ll be 35 in January.

And my cycle? Shit.

So I’m trying it. Acupuncture and last week something called cupping (which kinda felt like a hot stone massage.) It turns out I’ve got a blood deficiency and a major chi blockage. And there’s something up with my liver. (Ha! My inner writer so loves that.) She told me she believes both my irregular cycle and trouble conceiving are stress-related.

I know that comes as absolutely no surprise to those of you who know me in real life. How high strung is your Minerva Jane, my dears?

But wait! I’m not a doctor’s daughter for nothing. So I’m getting checked out by a reproductive endocrinologist too. Just in case there’s something horribly wrong. Like a blocked tube. Or I’ve been infested by aliens. You never know what could be going on in there. So they’re taking lots of blood at different times points in my cycle this time around. I’ll have a sonogram. We’ll see.

But the strange thing is that these two different traditions are so fucking skeptical of each other.

The reproductive endocrinologist takes one look at the list of supplements I’m on—and keep in mind we’re talking Vitamin D and Omega 3s here, nothing all that out there—and says, “Oh, I don’t know anything about this holistic stuff.”

Still, I have a feeling the integrated medical route is the best. Because I leave the acupuncturist feeling cared for and listened to; I leave the reproductive endocrinologist feeling like I’m in the hands of an efficiency expert. If there’s a flaw in the system, she’ll find it by god. I just don’t get why these two traditions can’t figure out a real way to work together. (Oh god, am I going to write, “Why can’t we all just get along?”) Why yes I am. Because really. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

Anyway. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

And for those interested: I’m still writing! Total word count as of this afternoon: 10,653. Go NaNoWriMo! If I actually finish this thing on time I’m going to be so fucking proud of myself.)

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

What? No REI In New York City?

How is that even possible? And yet seems to be the case. Rod and I are anxious to go grab some warm winter shells--fleece inside, waterproof outside. But can't find a store here.

Ohhhh NY. And here I thought you had everything.

In other news I've been diligently churning out my 1,667 words a day for National Novel Writing Month. Still not sure where the story is going or how I'm going to shape it into anything like a novel, but you know that's really not the point is it?

For you curious georges and georgettes: the working title is the book of strangers.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Avery Reading At Stain Bar

Some of you may remember that my husband Rod Schecter's short story appeared in the fan-tabulous fiction anthology Avery 1. Well, now there's an Avery 2 and they're having a reading here in Brooklyn to celebrate and raise funds for future issues. Well, I'm assuming they're going to use the funds for future issues. But maybe they're just raising cash for a trip to Bermuda this Winter. Either way, we're heading over to Williamsburg's Stain Bar tonight to listen to some kick-ass readings and imbide some of the borough's finest beer. Fun times, fun times. And I'm bringing my camera so maybe I'll have some lovely pix for you to look at tomorrow.

Oh, and the reading starts at 8pm. If you're in the hood and want to head on over to show your support.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Because I'm Also A Masochist

While I'm doing National Novel Writing Month I'm also doing National Blog Posting Month. Which means I'll post to this blog every day this month. Now don't go rolling your eyes at me. This really shouldn't be that bad because in the worst case scenario I'll just cut and paste an excerpt from that day's pages into this here blog. Cheating? Maybe.

And all this activity? Really just a way to distract myself from a bunch of other shit going on in my life right now. Although I'm sure at some point this month I'll end up writing about it one way or another. Because what else am I going to talk about?

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween In The West Village

Last night we went to see the parade in the West Village. Weird, but we've been here for two and a half years and have yet to see this famous freak-fest. I think we both sort of thought it would be like Burning Man but it couldn't have been further. Yes, lots of interesting costumes. Yes, lots of people on a variety of costumes. But instead of a general love-fest the Village was chock full of rude crowds of visiting suburbanites. Pushing, shoving. Blowing smoke in your face. Rod even got burned with a cigarette as we pushed past the West 4th St subway station. Mayhem. When we finally pulled away from the crowd and meandered down to Schillers on the Lower East Side I was relieved. (I get a little claustrophobic in crowds; subways at rush hour give me the creeps.) And then this morning I listen to NY1 to discover that four people were shot and another one stabbed last night during the festivities. Gang related, but still: how many people could have been injured in the cross-fire? Next year I'll stick to lovely Brooklyn and the parade of kids tottering down leaf-strewn streets.

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