Friday, March 24, 2006

Um... no

I told them to take their job and shove it. They made me feel horrible about it, but you know what? I'd rather be actually bankrupt than morally bankrupt.

Pfff. That was dramatic!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Choose life

So I got a job. The pay is scads more than my last job, it has great benefits, and the hours are regular. I should be happy.

Ah, but when has a "should" ever interfered with my ability to find the cloud attached to every silver lining?

The job is web editor at a non-magazine, non-media website attached to a product owned by Murdoch. I have left the magazine world. I can't even pretend to be on a masthead at this point.

At first, I saw myself in a little digital movie, in homage to the final seconds of Trainspotting, my face in closeup like Ewan Macgregor's as my voice, sans cute Scots brogue, recited, "Fuck magazines. Fuck Hearst. Fuck Conde Nast. Fuck Reader's Digest and its quaint Pleasantville offices. Fuck Cathie Black. Fuck the beauty closet. Fuck stilettos, a pair of which I've never seen on a magazine editor's feet. Fuck sample sales. Fuck Mahnolo Blahnik. Fuck cocktail parties. I'm on to something greater and better. I'm like the rest of you. Indexed pension, tax exemption, clearing the gutters, getting by, looking ahead, to the day you die...

Then, in my little pretend digital movie, I ran smack into a glass wall, broke my nose, and fell down. Because what was I running towards? A stoogey job at Newscorp. What the hell am I so happy about?!

And didn't Irvine Welsh only leave heroin addiction to tumble into a 10-year romance with / dependence on ecstasy?

Anyway, it's a gig. Allegedly, I'll be able to keep freelancing while I'm doing it, because the writing is so mind-numbingly easy. Of course, the last time I had a job that was mind-numbingly easy, my mind actually became numb and I wrote exactly one goose-egg the whole year. Plus, as my friend Judy para-said, "If you're not hungry, you get lazy." But uh... worst that happens, I pay off my credit card debts, right?

I'm going to put "Anyway, it's a gig" on a t-shirt. Then I'm going to put on the t-shirt, sit in the middle of Times Square, commit hara-kiri, and set myself on fire. Maybe I'll make it into Gawker!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why is it bad to do what you love for money?

It sounds like a blessing, to be able to take the thing you're really good at it and make a living at it, and I'm not going to be ungrateful enough to poo-poo my good fortune. That being said: poo poo!

The trouble is -- okay. Remember when you were in college, and you had to read so much for class that the very thought of reading for fun seemed ridiculous? I never got to that point, fortch, and I remember when I was reading an Ann Tyler novel I was roundly mocked by my snobby-snoot boyfriend and his über-competitive suitemates for doing for fun what I had to do anyway. (For him, the only acceptable forms of recreation were (a) listening to mid-career Miles Davis while sipping bourbon in a darkened room, (b) mocking the earnest efforts of others, and (c) finding excuses not to have sex with me, but do I judge? Nay! And I'm clearly over it.)

Anyway, where was I. Right, crapping on my good fortune. The deal is, you get paid to write stuff, but you're not paid to, you know, reminisce about your college boyfriend or make fun of passersby; you're paid to write 1200-word front-of-book articles about tattoo trends or pre-date rituals. So you learn to do this in the blink of an eye, because the quicker you can produce a high volume of words, the more money you make. You learn to nail it on the first draft so there are minimal rewrites. You learn to nail your pitches, too, so that you don't waste time pitching things that won't sell. In fact, you come to see any time not spent earning a dollar a word as wasted. And that's where the worm starts to turn.

It's so scary not knowing when your next assignment will come in. A slow month means your credit card gets stretched to ridiculous proportions. A good month means you don't sleep at night because you're thinking of all the things that are due on the same day. And every pitch that doesn't fly, every proposal that you have to rejigger, every short story that has no hope of making it into the New Yorker makes you see the opposite of dollar signs.

Which means you never write for yourself. Which means you only write for The Man. Which means you crap on people who write for themselves, because they don't get to put "writer" as their occupation on their passports. Which means you slowly forget that thrilling feeling of getting a germ of an idea in the middle of a shower, hopping out, and getting lost in blissful thrilldom of typing while your hair dries funny. Which means you slowly but surely forget what it was you loved about writing in the first place. And you forget what you wanted to write about when you thought you'd never get to write for a living. And you live in a rut for a loooong time till one day you start a blog.

That's what I'm hoping, anyway.

Gosh, I'm earnest today. What WOULD my college boyfriend think of me. (Answer: (D) I don't give a tinker's shit.)

Cleaning Day

I finished the 2 things I had to yesterday. Today, I could be working on a book proposal (no due date) or, I dunno, my NOVEL (really no deadline). Instead I am cleaning the house. I am a clean, clean person. scrubby scrubby scrubby.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Typos fill me with fury

But in the New York Times weekly email, they make me apoplectic:

Boite: The Password Is Birthday
Fontana's, which opened a few months ago between the Lower East Side and Chinatown, is they type of bar you go to hang out, shoot pool and have birthday parties.


Damn you, Craigslist Rants and Raves!

I just spent an HOUR answering this poll! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

childhood memories poll - my answers
Reply to:
Date: 2006-03-15, 12:30PM EST

1. current age: 38

2. town/city where you grew up: a biggish town in NJ

3. siblings? where do you fall in the order?: 3, I'm 3rd out of 4


4. favorite toy: a white poodle I named "Fluffy dee Dumpty"

5. first crush: Harpo Marx

6. first fight: not till like 10th grade, an awful girl at my school.

7. best birthday memory: One summer me and my friends threw surprise parties for everyone's bday. They were all really fun in their own ways. Tons of roller skating, slumbering, and ouija boards.

8. most memorable 'outfit': I had these awesome HUGE bellbottoms with my name on a patch on the knee. Oh wait, the summer of 1976 I wore the same cutoff shorts with a rope belt and a tank top that said "Spirit of '76" as often as my mom would let me, which was a lot, her having four kids and all.

9. favorite meal: Takeout from the chicken place, which stapled 2 plates together with the chicken and french-fries inside it so everything was really steamy. We would get this when my parents were going out for the evening. Terrible that this is my favorite remembered meal, because my mom was a great cook, but nothing beat the excitement of fried chicken and french fries on a stapled plate.

10. nostalgic snackfood: Black-and-white cookies

11. music i heard in my house: Beatles, the Weavers, the Incredible String Band, whatever classical music was on QXR, Arlo Guthrie, Brewer and Shipley, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Loggins & Messina ... amalgam of my parents' taste and my older sisters' taste.

12. best friend: Heather

13. favorite cartoon/show: Gumby & Pokey

14. memorable scent: Pine needles from when we went to Maine each summer

15. craziest relative: My uncle Robby, who would pay my cousin $5 to sneak him beers because he wasn't allowed to drink at family gatherings because he'd always get shitfaced and racist/nasty.

16. my famous phrase: "Pump-kin pie. Pump-kin pie. Stick your head in a pump-kin pie."

17. imaginary friend? remember their name? Yes, her name was Tele, pronounced "tuh-LEE," and my mom really missed her when she stopped showing up.

18. funnest vacation: Disneyland the summer I turned 5!

19. one of the times you laughed until you cried: When Mariette stuffed green grapes in her mouth till it was so full she couldn't close it, and then she DID, and the grapes exploded and the juice dribbled all over the ground. The same summer, she also whispered "Loose niiiiight" into Fran's ear while Fran was drinking milk and eating apple pie and she spit it all over the table. My sisters would make me laugh until I could not breathe on a daily basis, but I can't remember what they exactly did; I think it involved imitating our parents... we were all completely insane.

20. favorite grade? school subject? I hated school because I was one of those kids who got teased. I guess 3rd grade was OK because Miss Wandrasko was nice. My favorite subject was always reading.

21. most embarrassing moment: Too awful to contemplate.

22. best sneaky tactic: I'm a horrible sneak. I can't get away with anything. Seriously.

23. what did you "want to be when you grow up": A fantastic ACTRESS!!!

24. how close are you to that as an adult: Not very!!! I'm a writer, which is exactly what my mom predicted I would be.

25. warmest childhood memory: Fire in the fireplace, my sisters banging one of those cylinders of dough against the bricks so we could make biscuits. OMG, that makes us sound like suburban hillbillies!!

* no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests


Who wants to get the worm, anyway?

Not me. That's why I'm not the early bird. I was dropping off The Bear this morning and just thought, "I'll run errands now instead of later. I'll be home by 10 and working on all that stuff I forgot about yesterday,and I won't have to worry about knocking off at noon to do this stuff." So now it's 11:18, the coffee is finally brewing, and I'm already overwhelmed at the number of things that have to be done by 4:15.

Not to mention that yesterday, after I recommitted to this particular method of avoiding work (as opposed to, say, asking the people of Craigslist why there's no shopping on Sunday in Bergen County, or puzzling over the lyrics of Echo and the Bunnymen, or praising the joys of microwaved grits and poached eggs in the Weight Watchers forums, or cooking and freezing two weeks' worth of individually wrapped chili portions), I was overwhelmed with the clever and witty things I would comment on today, when I returned to my blog. Of which I can remember exactly zilch.

When I was a teeny tiny twenty year old standup comic, I used to walk around with a li'l notebook and write down stuff that would later become funny. Do I really need to do that again? Because there's something very gaytarded about the whole exercise of pulling out a notebook and scribbling "donuts look delicious." I still have those notebooks and, when I re-read them, I have no idea what I was talking about half the time. Kind of like when I re-read my senior thesis. Still, the fact that these days, it's one of those long n' slim, maxipad-sized reporters notebooks (designed to stick out of stuff so people notice and think, "oh, there goes a journalist -- I wonder if she's gonzo?) might lend the whole scene a little more gravitas. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rededication to the cause

Wow, that was some hiatus from wasting time. I had a temporary gig launching a website for a really cute magazine. I won't say what it was, except to ask, "How profitable was that?" The answer: Pretty profitable, till the deal changed and I had to commute to Westchester for the gig. Then it was just painful. Have you ever dealt with the Saw Mill Parkway? It's very picturesque. Picturesque being about #943 on my list of things I look for in a gig.

So here I sit, all broken-hearted... no wait. Here I sit, back in my the Dungeon of Clutter, with several stories due. One, in fact, due last night. All my interviews are done. I simply have to take the assignment, mash in quotes, and spit it out. It should, by all rights, take 1 hour to do and 1 hour to revise into the English language. Wouldn't it be great if I were actually doing it?

The above paragraph -- originally I wanted to do some weird take on Hegel re: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, but I couldn't make the "antithesis" part right. Which reminded me of a story: I knew someone who worked on Northern Exposure, and in the final episode, the Aidan guy was supposed to say something about "thesis, antithesis, and synthesis," but as a joke he said "Reese's pieces." Which prompted a lady in the catering department to quip, "Oh darlin', you really are a dim bulb, aren't ya."

Could there be higher praise for someone as stupidfunny as myself? I think not. Hail to you, Aidan-guy.