Monday, December 17, 2012

Some Very Old (Very Entertaining) Clips

An old pal from my days at Cosmopolitan Magazine just hipped me to this archive of magazine articles at Villanova. Here, we see many of my Cosmo articles -- including the "American Pie Chart," "Men Unzipped: The Secret His Undies Reveal" (for which I interviewed, off the record, my crush at Esquire), and my expose on the Brazilian bikini wax.

But in addition, there are more recent gems I had forgotten about, such as "can you build a better PENIS?" from Redbook, 2004. I don't know why PENIS is so big, except that maybe PENIS got excited at the idea of a better PENIS.

Villanova Falvey Library

I'm going to get interesting page-views on this one, aren't I. Well, go click the ads, PENIS-lovers.

Anyway, it's nice to see there's a record of some of my more ridiculous articles, though I have no idea how to access it. I'd follow that rabbit hole down to its end, but I have to not procrastinate this morning, and that's pretty much a prime example of work avoidance by way of pretending something is tangentially related to work and therefore OK to spend the morning on.

Begone, temptation! If anyone else wants to research this, be my guest!

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Financial Lives of the Freelancers

I read a novel by Jess Walters called The Financial Lives of the Poets. In it, a hapless financial reporter finds himself laid off and unemployable and makes a stunning series of ill-thought-out mistakes in an effort to cling to his middle-class existence. The main character was a bit of a pud, but that probably only bothered me because he was my kind of pud -- his stunned disbelief at being in the position he's in and his utter lack of direction, now that he's adrift, were all too familiar to me. Laid-off, unemployable, scrabbling for freelance dimes that I swear used to be dollars -- yeah. It's hard to feel at a distance from that guy.

It was a still a good, funny, solid read though, and I appreciated this gem, in the acknowledgements at the end:

"...and all of my dismayed and displaced newspaper friends, whose talent and commitment deserve a better world."

I'll pretend he said "and magazine" and make myself part of the group. Blerg.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Also, I'm A Tiny Bit Cray-Cray

Speaking of procrastinating, this morning, Johnny Galecki (now of The Big Bang Theory) was on Sesame Street, and I was reminded that in 1992 or so, I wrote him a fan poem that I posted via my AOL account. And because I am a digital pack-rat, I still have a copy of it. So. If you love The Big Bang Theory, Roseanne, or The Opposite of Sex, enjoy.

Oh my god. It's creepier than I remembered. And it's long. Longer than I remembered.

Darlene! My God! What's wrong with you? You moron, are you blind?
A better man than David you could never hope to find!
This Jimmy guy is loser-lame. He'll lead you down the path
Of cigarettes and and Nietsche, and then you'll face Roseanne's wrath.

Johnny Galecki, Johnny Galecki, won't you be my man?
I'll be your Darlene if you'll be my David from Roseanne.

I've watched him from afar, grainy and small on my TV
He is my TV boyfriend, even though I am thir-tee.
I don't know why he charms me so, I just know he's the one
Who makes my heart go pitter-pat when across the screen he runs.

He's way smarter than Mark, and he's skinnier than Dan,
he's older than that DJ, he's my David from Roseanne

I remember his first TV movie, starring ol' Roseanne,
about a football team for women (not a single man!)
Johnny was Roseanne's son, and he was droopy and so sad.
My heart just broke for Johnny; he was missing his dead dad!

He didn't sing on Rosie O'Donnell, though I'm sure that he can:
He's multitalented, cuz he's my David from Roseanne!

Another time, he was a guy whose heart was truly good,
Though he was troubled, had bad hair, and seemed to be a hood.
His bro (Neil Patrick Harris, who's of Doogie Howser fame),
Did awful stuff, and tried to make poor Johnny take the blame.

I'd tie him up and hobble him, cuz I'm his number-one fan;
JUST KIDDING! I'm no stalker -- I just love David from Roseanne.

Another week, with Jennie Garth of 90210,
He was in a hospital, cuz he'd gone plumb loco.
They plotted their escape; alas! he didn't make it out.
But Oh! if I had been his nurse, he'd have no need to pout!

Oh! The things I'd do to him, in the back of my Chevy Van:
I'd (censored censored censored stuff) with David from Roseanne.

In one movie, with Judith Light, he had a reputation:
He played a charming murderer who died in conflagration.
Judith's screaming histrionics hit the nail right on the head.
I would shriek and holler too, if I thought Johnny G were dead!

In high school, my best friend was this girl down the street named Fran.
I only mention this to rhyme with David from Roseanne.

Now his star is rising; to the movies I must go.
His career is on the big screen now, not on a weekly show.
I'm glad for him, but sad for me: no TV boyfriend now,
unless another show comes on that features Brian Krakow...

Johnny Galecki, Johnny Galecki, won't you be my man?
I'll be your Darlene if you'll be my David from Roseanne!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Forbes and Marissa Meyer

Hey! This is good news I should have reported last week. My LearnVest piece about Marissa Meyer got reposted on Forbes and got a huge response. More than 88,000 views and I heard from people all over the place. It got Facebooked around like a kitten picture. Horribly, Forbes also neglected to put my byline on the piece, but it does come at the end, in a little blurb, so okay.

The comments were predictably depressing, but at least I was part of the conversation, and got to call her husband "hot-ass."

They did edit out the part where I said Meyer is a unicorn, and we should be more worried about the horses that actually need our attention; I liked pointing out that she's so rare as to actually seem mythical, but it was a little far-fetched.

I also said "we're all in this together," which is a direct reference to my darling, beloved, gorgeous Wendy Wasserstein in "The Heidi Chronicles." Here's the moment:
I don't blame the ladies in the locker room for how I feel. I don't blame any of us. We're all concerned, intelligent, good women. It's just that I feel stranded. And I thought the whole point was that we wouldn't feel stranded. I thought the whole point was we were all in this together. 
It didn't fit into the piece, but those who know will hear the echo. I hope.

this always happens.

okay, not always, but I am resisting a story because the way I pitched it now seems too simplistic (it's based on a press release, not enough THERE there, no meat, bad bad bad), but to put in the time to do it right will render it a loss (have not been able to scare up better info on the phone; will need to devote an afternoon to on-site reporting, sans kids, which negates the $ made).

I hate this.

Okay, back to trying to report it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Know what I miss?

reporter's or reporters'? they're both correct, depending on context, dingus.
Reporters' notebooks.

I'm talking about these jammies. The ones I used, though, were not so crass as to announce themselves on the cover; they had the same basic, glossy cover as your average Spiral notebook, the kind you buy in a pack before each new semester of college. But the shape. 4x8 inches, tall and slim, gave me more go-get-'em-Scoops courage than ten press passes.

They honestly never made much sense. I am assuming they were originally created in that shape to fit into the breast pocket (some might call it a flask pocket) of a blazer, and they don't even put those pockets in womens' blazers. (Plus: who wears women's blazers?!) I'd been carrying notebooks for years before I was a reporter, in the service of being a standup comic, and for that I just carried a tiny notepad. Granted, I was writing fewer words that wouldn't have to be transcribed or fact-checked, but still: I knew, as I strode into Staples and picked up a megapack of these guys, that this wasn't a practical act. I had like 900 Steno pads stolen from temp jobs (the ones with the mint green paper and the little red line down the middle? Swoon).

(yeah, I may have a little office-supply problem. Yeah, I might.)

 Anyway. The point is, these were as much a part of my emotional preparation, going into a reporting situation (a Russian bath in Brooklyn, a boat to Ellis island packed with Jewish celebrities, the release of a G.I. Joe based on the standing Secretary of State), as pair of comfortable shoes, a cup of coffee, and a set of ready questions so I wouldn't be tongue-tied.

Yet it was surprising to me when people saw the notebook and said "Oh, here's the reporter." I can't tell you when I realized reporters had their own style of pad; I didn't think of it as a general cultural signifier. I was in a relationship with my notebook, it wasn't for the world to see. Except it was; people recognizing it gave me an additional charge, a jolt of self-confidence.

I see now there are moleskine reporters' notebooks. What. The fudge. No WAY would I carry one of those! Ah, but I don't carry the real thing anymore, either. The most important interviews, I capture on a digital recorder. When I take notes, I grab whatever half-empty notebook is handy, most often one that was given out free at a press event (read: cocktail party my friends and I took as an excuse to meet up). Or I do my interviews over the phone, so I can type my notes in garbled, but more accurate and harder to lose, format.

Maybe I've gone soft. Or I've moved on to a different kind of reporting. Or both! But the sight of these little soldiers makes me feel all gooey inside. They bring to my memory the urgency of hurrying through an unfamiliar neighborhood, peering at building numbers, trying to soak up local color while staying focused on the story at hand. Jotting down possible other stories (what's that cool blue house? There's a puppet theater -- here?!) on the way.

I'm not even tempted to buy a set - I don't want to dilute those memories.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Six Words Approacheth

Jeesh. My pal Jessica brought me to a very cool literary event, schmoozing with famous writers, part of the Litquake party. Actually, they were all people I've schmoozed with anyway, fancy fancy me, but I still had an amazing time. But. I also was reminded, because I kept talking about it, that Six Words is coming up THIS THURSDAY, and now I'm getting nervous.

I like being nervous, but I really want to do well, so I should also rehearse. I also would love to get my hair did, but I just got the car's brakes did, and that kind of means the bank account also got did. So I didn't. Get my hair did.

I did, however, write some pretty funny stuff for, as well as some procrastinatey comments on the Motherlode blog that I REALLY HOPE the world gets to see. It was pretty much the same as my recent post on PeeGee, but nobody sees that, so.

All right. Back to work. Also I have color on my head for like an hour longer than I'm supposed to and I think it's settled in my lungs.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Deadlines Alive!

I had a devastating series of missed deadlines a few weeks ago that I thought I'd never recover from. Clients are like boyfriends in a weird way. I mean, you have a bunch of them, so maybe they're like ... uh ... maybe I'm like a whorey ... wait. I'm-a start over.

I missed a bunch of deadlines for a client I absolutely adore, and I was devastated over it. Just gutted. I hated letting them down, and worse, I feared they'd dump me, because I kind of deserved it. My writing's good, but not good enough to justify missed deadlines. I was so pissed at myself.

I had tried to shift over from Google Calendars to this thing called Cozi and for some reason I didn't get it all entered right, so I didn't get the reminders I depend on. THat was the whole point of ditching Google Calendars -- sometimes their stupid reminders get borked for no reason -- so it wasn't working for me. Honestly, I think some of this was user error, but I don't use an online shared calendar because I'm a super-genius at figuring stuff out; I use it because I'm an overwhelmed multitasker who can't hold a calendar's hand.

Anywho, now that I've upgraded my computer and my phone -- via the Genius Bar, for free, so easy, THANK YOU GENIUS BAR -- I can use iCloud and for the first time I'm using iCal for this crap. I figured out how to have it text me reminders, which was the whole reason I started using Google Calendars in the first place. Here's what I did:

Figured out the email-to-text address for my carrier
Entered that into the "email" field for the iCal alert

DONE AND DONE. Actually there were a few more steps, but that's the gist of it, and it's beautiful.

The other thing I did was, with this one client, when I submit one article, I confirm the due date of the next one. THAT has been what really helps, and I recommend it highly.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blanker's Blank

There's this mythical thing called -- I can't say it. I'm too superstitious. It's my job and then the word "bee-ell-oh-see-kay." When a writer can't write, we call it this, and it's such a terrifying concept that my mind skates over it as a possibility, the same way it skates over traumatic memory or Kardashians.

My husband was musing about this phenomenon the other day, then said, "But you don't believe in it, right?" I worried that I would be struck mute (well, my fingers would be) on the spot. But he's right; ever since hearing a writer, years ago, say "I disavow that term," I have used that line myself. If I feel textually constipated, I reason that the writing muscles are working beneath the surface, that my mind is working on something and will let me know when it has figured the thing out.

I'm not a big one for "waiting for inspiration" or sitting still hoping the muse will strike. The solution to writer's block -- ack! i said it! -- is to write, even if what I'm writing is shit. "Inspiration can't find you if you're not where you said you'd meet it," I told him. "You have to at least show up."

So if I can't write one thing, I write around it. I write a different assignment. I write a blog post. I write an email. I write, I write, and when I'm done writing other stuff, I come back to the thing that was giving me trouble, and see if I can tease it out.

I think this is the same process -- the machinery working beneath the surface (mix that metaphor!) -- that tends to work so well in the shower. This morning I was brushing my teeth and reading my Twitter feed, which led to an article, which dovetailed with a Facebook argument that has been bothering me since yesterday, and bam. My morning deadlines are going to have to wait because if I don't offload this blog post (for RatedPeeGee), there won't be room for anything else.

Let's not talk about how often my writing metaphors would work best as poop metaphors. Let's just leave that one undigested.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Today, right now, I do two pieces: one and a corporate one. I am going to do both. This despite my spending 2 hours grinding through my in-box. I also applied for yet another job.

What's with recruiters suddenly being the new used car salesmen? Only used car salesmen didn't call you at home on a weekend to ask if you wanted this new car they just found. And then ask you to do all this stuff to GET the new car and then ignore you after you send them what they asked for, which took hours out of your weekend work days.


I'm putting it here and will report back when each thing is done. What are you going to work on today?
I'll race you.

UPDATE: Both pieces done, 3 hours later, not too bad. However, I thought one was being done a day early when, in fact, it was a day late. Editor forgives me. I love him. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


It's ever-fascinating to me, the things that I will find completely necessary -- nay, urgent -- when I sit down to work. I'll spend all night fretting about an upcoming -- nay, looming -- deadline, and as I walk into my office I'll be mentally calculating how much I can get done in my allotted four hours of desk time. And somehow as my butt lowers onto my yoga ball, I magically pass into an enchanted land where the only concievable problem is that I don't have a working printer.

Here are some ways I drag that out to fill my work time:
- Price-comparisons at different stores
- Price-comparisons within each store
- Searching for and entering various coupon codes
- Reading reviews
- Comparing prices of ink, to see if that offsets the cheapness of the printer

The funny part ... and there is a funny part ... is that I'm always just going to buy the cheapest Epson regardless of what any online review says.

Did I say funny part? That's the sad part.

Anyway. Once I realized that this expense would go into our new family business account, I somehow let go of the idea of doing it now and emailed the best printer to my husband, who's in charge of our bookkeeping. ooooookkkkkkkkeeeeeeee i love that word.

And now? Back to work. I have the exact perfect story to work on and I just realized I was totally looking forward to it, back when my butt was up higher.

Crap, I never found a place to say nay, something again just so it'd be clear I was kidding about ever saying nay, anything. Well listen, do you want me to go back and revise, or do you want me to make this deadline? I thought so. Thanks for your patience -- nay, forbearance. HAHAHA.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Pause That Refreshes

I Tweeted the other day that "broke is the new single." What I meant was this: when I was single, I felt shame, worry that I was a freak who would always be this way, envy that others seemed to have figured all this out, and determination that I would always, always remember what this felt like, even when I was no longer single.

I kept that promise to a certain extent. Part of me is just too freakin busy, at this point, to even notice that people feel at loose ends. Yesterday was Mother's Day, and as I lovingly nuzzled my daughters' hair, noticing the difference in their smells and the way their skin feels, I didn't remember -- possibly for the first time! -- that one Mother's Day twenty-odd years ago, when I trudged down into the subway and saw a beautiful family running up and out, the mom adorable in her hippie dress, the dad slinging kids one-armed like a pro, and sunk into a slough of despond. Never mind that that family ended up divorced a few years later (Park Slope is a small town, yo) or that, you know, it just wasn't my time yet, and it wouldn't have killed me to just Enjoy Myself rather than constantly comparing my life to everyone else's. My response to seeing a happy family was worry and a pervasive sense of inferiority.

Now that I really am that hippie mom (uh sorta), I don't miss a chance to feel grateful and lucky, rather than put-upon and resentful. But it's not a constant awareness. It's fading. The same way that "I will always be a smoker, even after I stop!" eventually faded. And that "I will always remember how annoying grownups are!" lost its charm when I realized how self-obsessed twelve-year-olds are. We can't stay frozen in amber. Our policies evolve along with our circumstances.

Anyway, so I'm not obsessively single anymore. I'm not a smoker anymore, not even emotionally. But I retain my outsider status by being hella broke, underemployed, and resentful of my friends who do zany things like have date night or buy pants. And I want to remember always how crappy this feels so I don't make broke friends feel worse when I'm feeling better. I seem to remember an essay by Anne Lamott on this theme -- having to cut off a friend who was kvelling too much about her own good fortune. At the time, I thought she was emotionally stingy. I still would not allow myself to do such a thing -- suck it up, I tell myself, because friends are harder to make than money. But I do see how the emotional energy required to negotiate being too broke to pay every bill, every month, can be so draining, there's no energy left over for applause.

Like a single person obsessing over a new potential mate, I spend so much energy hitting "refresh" on my email account that I have to force myself to actually take the steps to get new work and, you know, do the work on my plate. I'm sure that metaphor could be more elegant. But if I spend any more time on it, I won't make today's deadline.

So here's my vow: Universe, give me enough work to support my family, and I'll keep my mouth shut and clap for my friends when you do the same for them. Deal?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Content Providers

For a couple years now, I've seen tons of ads for content providers, and have watched as potential clients slip away, seduced by the siren song of free or dirt-cheap content that pays writers maybe $5-$10 per 500-word post. I know plenty of people who've gone this route on lean months. I'm not gonna name names, but you've surely seen them listed on Craigslist, and it's not like it's really any worse than that unpaid internship you took in college, right?

Except we're supposed to be beyond the internship years and the desperation, for crap's sake. It seems like the longer I'm in this business, the more people expect me to work for free, for "exposure," for the sake of community or dialogue or any number of other buzz words. Blurg.

Thank goodness, some responsible content providers are entering the market now. Staffed by seasoned journalists, they don't take writers for granted -- and the gigs are fun, interesting, and pretty easy. I'm happy to outsource the search for clients and feel lucky to be on board. And the pay's not bad. So that's this week's adventure: new client, new delivery system. Fun fun.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Six Words On Jewish Life

Ho ho! I'm a super hipster! You're probably familar with Smith Magazine's Six-Word Memoirs. Recently they asked for six-word roundups of people's Jewish identity. I submitted several, probably because I was on deadline at the time (see the blog's title). I have no idea which one(s) they have decided to include in their latest book, "Six-Word Memoirs On Jewish Life," but include they did, according to an email I just opened.

You should totally buy it, but mine would be one (or more!) of these:

I'm not yelling! This is talking!
Don't let the surname fool you.
Half Jewish, half Armenian: All survivor.
I believe in G-d! Sort of.

Which one do you think they liked? Which one do YOU like? I think the first one is my personal fave. Anyway, it's not exactly a byline, but I love it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Will Blog For Clothes

My latest client is an amazing clothing designer, my total favorite. They love my writing and are patient with my overzealous wordiness, probably because their editorial director is also from magazines. It's a great feeling.

Not such a great feeling is when there's a last-minute correction that I need to do ... and I'm spending the morning doing my shift at my daughter's co-op. This happened Friday, and it felt awful. I'm careful not to look at my phone during that shift, because the teachers understandably want us to focus on the kids, and I, for one, can easily spend the whole time playing dodge-child, whapping their heads away with my left hand while scrolling through my Twitter feed with the right. Plus, Friday was just a clusterschtup, with all of us awakened by my phone's alarm telling us it was time to leave the house. Followed immediately by Penny sobbing that she didn't want to go to school and needed me by her side AT ALL TIMES. Oy. By lunchtime, the morning teacher was ready to throttle me, the other working parents, and probably the kids as well, and I can't blame her. And the whole time, my client was waiting for a response. Master of none!

SO it's Monday, and fiddle dee dee, today is another day. Time to make up some work, and create some good will for the next clusterschmuck.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

More time to write...

Well, I guess the good news is that I no longer will have to cram my writing time into the early mornings, but the bad news is that Husband is laid off again. I'm going to focus on the first half of that sentence. Of course, as I said to him, I am unwilling to cede much of my time with the girls -- though it's been horribly frustrating, trying to find time to get work done, it's also been glorious to be with them so much. Such is the back-and-forth pull of the working mom. Anywho. Look for a lot more bylines in the coming weeks.

The BIMI column is too, too much fun. The great thing about having an editor who loves me is that since I know what she likes, I have a great time hiding little bon mots that I know will make her snicker. Has to make it better for the reader, too. Hope so, anyway. Go there and comment so she knows she's not the only loller!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My new column!

I'm a columnist! Watch for me every 2 weeks at, where I'll be doing a regular feature called "Buy It Or Make It." Too awesome. The first ten are set, and they're things I've already made. Woo!