Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Art of Wasting Time

I fail at getting my shit together on Thursdays. I blame this day's close proximity to Friday. So please enjoy this diary entry I wrote two years ago! At the time I was working on both Renaissance Lab and another project. I'm contractually prohibited from yammering on the internet about that project, so I will always refer to it as simply "the contracted project."

I am a bad girlfriend. I was supposed to be working all day so that I could go to New Jersey tonight and go to the beach tomorrow. I did not do that. Instead, here's what I did:

Wake up

Watch half of Object of My Affection

Surf the internet

Talk to the Danterbury Tales on the phone about the possiblity of going to the beach and say that I am about to eat breakfast and start working

Play online for another hour

Realize I have low blood sugar and need to eat since it is already 1:00 PM

Bring dishes to the kitchen to wash so I can use them to make breakfast

Spill old coffee grounds on the floor

Get broom to sweep up coffee grounds

Realize the kitchen floor is disgusting

Sweep the entire kitchen floor

Wash coffee pot and other dishes

Realize I am out of the good coffee beans and contemplate if I will make bad coffee/get sick if I use expired coffee beans

Figure this is okay and start making breakfast

Blow a fuse by having the toaster, coffee maker, and air conditioner plugged in at once

Fix fuse

Continue making breakfast

Take an extremely long time eating breakfast while finishing Object of My Affection (the coffee tastes fine, furthering my suspicion that coffee beans don't really expire and that the coffee companies just want me to buy more coffee beans than I really need)

Read through everything I've written of Renaissance Lab and make a few nit-picky changes while failing to actually write anything new

Read a few Hyperbole and a Half posts

Read through what I've already done on the contracted project in preparation of doing work

Read more Hyperbole and a Half posts

Write three sentences of the contracted project

Write pointless journal entry about being a bad girlfriend, further proving the original point

Read through journal entry several times, feeling a delusional sort of pride in my ability to waste time

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Reasonable Argument for Why I Should Always Be on Vacation

A few years ago International Dan of Mystery and I went on a trip to Sint-Maarten, the southern half of a Caribbean island in the Netherlands AntillesFrance owns the other half of the island, which is just called boring old St. Martin. We stayed in Sint-Maarten for a week. 

We only visited the French side once, and it happened to be on a day that France was playing in the World Cup. So the main impression I got of St. Martin was this:

It is very difficult to get a seat in a cafe here and my, don't they yell a lot? Also our waitress seems to have vanished. What did Danwich just say? I don't know. I can hear nothing but soccer hooligans.

Whereas back on the Dutch side, our resort was right on the beach, we got ten-dollar vouchers every night to spend in the casino across the street, and everywhere from the tourist shops to the pharmacies seemed to sell the very best rum that has ever existed in this world. 

We went to one restaurant where they gave you a complimentary shot of homemade banana rum with your meal. There were tiny bananas in the bottle (are they called something other than tiny bananas? I have no idea) and the rum was by far the most delicious banana-flavored thing I've ever had. It actually tasted like bananas, as opposed to the sickeningly sweet taste of banana-flavored candy.

Danana liked the rum even more than I did and told our waiter so. Our waiter responded by leaving a bottle of this glorious rum on our table for us to imbibe as we wished. I got up to go to the bathroom after two shots. When I came back, there was very little rum left. Also Danardly Dan had bought two more bottles—one for himself and one for his grandfather—and was grinning like a fool.

All in all, it was a pretty great vacation. One aspect I had been dreading beforehand was Arnold Schwarzedanner's insistence that we work out regularly while away. I don't exercise regularly when I'm not on vacation. To exercise during precious relaxing time seemed a terrible waste.

But once we were in Sint-Maarten, I actually got kind of into working out. It was pretty cool to work with Dan the Destroyer, since he teaches people how to exercise for a living. It also helped that the hotel's gym was more or less deserted each time we went. 

I get kind of paranoid about working out around other people. I'm always convinced that I'm doing exercises wrong, and that every single other person in the gym knows it. Even All-Spandex-All-the-Time Guy, who fell asleep on the bench and is starting to drool.

Still, I can't entirely understand why I enjoyed working out and challenging myself so much in Sint-Maarten when normally I despise that sort of thing. I think maybe it had something to do with the fact that I knew I didn't have to do this forever—I was just taking advantage of the easy gym access. And considering how much swimming and hiking we did, I was pretty glad we were keeping active.

So in the end, my conclusion is this: I need to be on vacation all of the time. It is the only way I will treat my body properly. The tricky part is that somehow I need to continuously think the vacation might end, so that I appreciate each and every moment. I'll take those dance classes that the former Rockette from Dirty Dancing taught and soon I'll look something like this:

Please, universe. For the sake of my health, make this happen.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Short Post and a Song #8: Rain can be such a dick.

Okay, rain. I get it. I decided that, for no better reason than getting home to my air conditioner, you didn't scare me enough to postpone leaving the coffee shop. So you turned into a fucking MONSOON for the entirety of my fifteen-minute walk and cleared up as soon as I reached my doorstep. 

So you win, rain—you are a bigger badass than I will ever be. I still don't think you need to be such a dick about it, though.


"Road to Nowhere" by the Talking Heads

This song never fails to put me in a good mood. That's partly because it is on the soundtrack of the 1989 film Little Monsters. I watched that movie roughly one hundred times in my childhood, because: 

1) Monsters are awesome.

2) I was one of those charming children who wanted watch my favorite movies over, and over, and over, and over.  

3) I was hopelessly in love with Fred Savage. 

I mean, really. Who wouldn't be?

I was sure one day Fred Savage would realize that I was far more interesting than Winnie on The Wonder Years, and we would run away together. We would go hang out with a bunch of monsters, Ben Stein, and the guy who played Fred's grandfather in The Princess Bride, and it would be glorious.

I still think I was right about Winnie. Not that I was such a spectacularly fascinating child, but Winnie had about as much personality as a soapy washcloth. 

We could've had something so special, Fred. You really missed out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Updated: Dear Danuel's iPad, and also our apartment building's ancient elevator:

Oh, you two. I wouldn't have expected you to have anything in common. One of you weighs about as much as fifty sheets of paper, and the other is a heap of creaking machinery that makes me fear for my life at least twice a day.

And yet you both have a tendency to forget your given functions. I don't ask a lot of you, iPad. You could slip through a fucking crack in the floor—I forgive you for being overwhelmed by the idea of Spell-check.

But sometimes I decide I want to go to a website, or that I would very much like to check my email. You'll take me to where I want to go. But once I try to click a link, you are having none of that shit. You're like "What the fuck is this tapping thing you keep doing? It's disturbing my meditation, you asshole." And then I feel kind of rude, and also wonder what an iPad could possibly get out of meditation.

And you, elevator. Good lord. You just suck. I'll tell you I don't want to climb six flights of stairs and you're like, "Of course! You've worked a long day and should definitely not have to climb those stairs."

A minute later you still haven't arrived so I press the button again. And you act all innocent, like, "Hey buddy? How's it hanging?"

"Things aren't going so great, muchacho," I reply, because I say things like "muchacho" when I converse with elevators. "You were supposed to come pick me up?"

"Oh, right, right," you reply, and make all kinds of noises like you're really planning to come down.

This pattern goes on for about ten minutes and oh God I hate you so much, elevator.

Listen up, you two. You need to stop forgetting your purposes in life. I get that it must be confusing for you, iPad. I mean, you're not really a computer, you're not a phone ... but one thing I know that you are supposed to be able to do efficiently is browse the internet. Please remember that this is one of your capabilities from now on.

And, elevator. I'm sorry I've been so insensitive to your Alzheimer's. I'll probably go to hell for that. But your job is not that fucking hard. Up. Down. That's it. Not "down for two floors then stop for no reason."

I think maybe you both need to do some soul-searching and think hard about your career choices.

P.S. Bleh, once again an Apple product has tricked me into plussing one of my own posts. This time the culprit was an iPhone. I guess these clumsy fingers just weren't made for the future.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Short Post and a Song #7: Never make your password "password." Just don't.

Why do so many people still use the word "password" for their passwords? Are they really willing to turn their private emails and credit card information into bait for our world's very dumbest hackers, all so they don't have to spend an extra few seconds trying to remember a password? Do these people think that because "password" is such an obvious password that it's secretly brilliant, and that no one will ever guess it?

If that is your line of thinking—then you, sir, are a dumbass. You deserve to have your identity stolen as far as I'm concerned.


"Blue Ridge Mountains" by the Fleet Foxes

I listen to this song while writing a lot. It sounds to me like running through the woods and watching rays of sunlight shoot through the treetops. If you're working on an outdoor, nature-y scene, this song may help to put you in the right mindset.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This past weekend Danny Glover and I hung pretty low since we had both contracted cases of death flu the week before. The death flu basically felt like a mix between a sinus infection and a really bad hangover (of the vomiting variety). But we did manage to find the energy to make it out to the Brooklyn Flea and walk around for a bit.

Whenever I get angry about one of the many delightful "quirks" of our 1920s apartment building—how one wall in our room does not match the others, or the fact that our shower spigot faces the wrong direction and therefore floods the bathroom and puts my skin in contact with our disgusting shower curtain way too often—I try to focus on the fact that we live only a few blocks from the Brooklyn Flea. It happens every Saturday outside a nearby high school. The clothes are kind of overpriced and I always end up wanting to buy a bureau or some other old-fashioned shit that we don't have room for in our tiny apartment. But it's a lot of fun to wander through the stalls, thumbing through records and laughing at weird, creepy knick knacks. Jewelry also tends to be nifty and very reasonably priced.

And the food. Oh god. The food. There's one stand that's completely devoted to different kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches. And sometimes they also have a dark chocolate milkshake with fresh strawberries in it, and to drink it is to send your taste buds to the moon to dance among the stars.

Most importantly there is a beef jerky stand where they have two kinds of jerky—classic and Korean BBQ. Classic is good and Korean BBQ, if it were a person, would be a muscular fireman with a black belt who you would never feel nervous letting hold your child. You would in fact think that it would benefit your child's overall development to be held by a fireman of this superhuman caliber.

Unfortunately, a very small bag of this wondrous jerky is like eleven dollars. It's pretty tough to convince oneself to make these purchases when one is as broke-assed as me and Danachu. Considering the fact that one of us (pretty much always Danverine) occasionally does buy an absurdly overpriced handful of this dried meat, I feel kind of okay about all the other times we've taken free samples with no plans to buy whatsoever.

Once we'd had our fill of jerky and disconcertingly meat-like tasting vegan chorizo at the Flea, we headed over to a cafe. Lieutenant Dan got mint green tea for his ailing throat while I irresponsibly got my third cup of coffee for the day. Dan of Green Gables sat with me for a few minutes on a bench outside the cafe. On the blacktop across the street, something called "Spring Fest 2012" was going on. They were playing such eighties-tastic jams as "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Eye of the Tiger." There were a bunch of kids eating tasty snacks and there were two enormous bouncy castles.

One of the things I miss most about childhood is the easy access to bouncy castles that it provided. Can adult bouncy castles become more of a thing, please?

Soon Inspector Spacedan decided to return home to give me a chance to read more of my assigned book for the weekend. Right before he left, he glanced at the loud party going on across the street and chuckled. "All right, I'll let you read your book," he said. "But I guarantee you will not get any work done. You'll be too busy thinking about how much you want to go jump in that bouncy house."

This is what happens when you date someone for five and a half years—you become very sensitive to each other's bouncy-house-related hopes and dreams.

About five minutes after Sir Dan left, this texting conversation commenced:

Me: The desire to bounce is strong

Me: Dude one of them is a 2-level bouncy house!

All Dan on the Western Front: Yea ever since the bouncy house real estate collapse it's been very easy to find 2 story inflatable bouncy domiciles

Me: I will single-handedly solve the bouncy house real estate collapse by buying ALL of them

Danbo Baggins: You can open up a whole inflatable town called Bounceville

Me: Tourism poster: Bounceville: We have 10,000 fucking bouncy houses. Do I need to say more things?

Five and a half years in and we're already thinking up ingenious real estate ideas which will of course make millions. Where will we be in the next five years, I wonder?

Oh right. In our fifty-story bouncy motherfucking skyscraper.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I am not an Oprah Pegasus

I'm kind of in the mood to be inspirational today so, without further ado, I'll just get inspirin'. Naw, I'm just kidding. When I think of inspiring people, I think of Oprah. And I am quite possibly the opposite of Oprah in every single way.

Oprah came from nothing and now she builds literal cities for the homeless. Say some book is four hundred blank pages and one photocopied ass picture, but it's on a different page in each copy of the book—if Oprah decides that she likes it, you know that shit is going straight to the top of the bestseller's list.

Though of course Oprah is way too classy for ass pictures.

I, on the other hand, think that blank-novel-with-a-mystery-ass-picture idea is fucking brilliant. That's the twist! You never know when that book is going to moon you. Fucking suspense—that's what that is. Ass of the Living Dead.

I also have not yet built one city for the homeless. I haven't even built a house for the homeless, or a desk or something. Instead I stare at my book while a man with a rolling suitcase leaking blue liquid tries to sell me an alcoholic juice box on the subway.

Oprah has her shit together, as well as the shit of roughly thirty-seven towns and fifty girls' summer camps. I've put off doing laundry long enough to run out of underwear and spend days in bathing suit bottoms, and am allergic to putting my shoes anywhere but all over our bedroom floor. Briefly we had a roommate who had an adorable cat. And I was so happy because there was a cat around who I could shower with love, and yet I never had to take any responsibility for. Her litter box was someone else's problem, and that was a beautiful thing.

So whenever I do write posts with writing advice, please don't think that I think I'm some kind of all-knowing Oprah Pegasus. Those advice posts are as much for me as they are for anyone else. I have done me some book-writing and have gotten to the point where I'm starting to figure out what works for me and what doesn't. I've found some ways of getting around walls that have blocked my narrative path in the past—why not share them, if they might help someone else having the same problem?

Just remember that for every piece of writing advice I offer, I have also broken a wine glass in public. Or shoved someone on my way to the subway. Or told a young child that she shouldn't hide her tooth under her pillow because that would technically be selling herself for money, and that's something we grown-ups like to call prostitution.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Short Post and a Song #6: If you ever start feeling down...

If you ever start feeling down, just imagine a very uppercrust British man sniffing and saying this:

"Darling, is it just me, or does it smell ever so slightly like ass in here?"

It perks me right up every time.


"Take Me Out" by the Scissor Sisters

The Franz Ferdinand original version of this song was a constant enough soundtrack at college parties that I got a little sick of it. But the Scissor Sisters took the "Trampled Underfoot" sound-alike and turned it into this slower, bluesy, shoulder-rocking bit of awesome. I could listen to the their guitarist pick out that guitar line all day long.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Swearing on the Internet

This is something I've thought quite a bit about. While I write adult novels too, my main two projects right now are respectively young-adult and middle-grade. This blog exists partly so that when agents that I query Google me, they find something other than a video of my twenty-year-old self performing a passage from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for my Acting Medieval Literature class.

(By the way, that fucker still comes up higher than the blog when you Google my name. This is probably due to my utter lack of internet savvy.)

Do I really want agents' first impression of me—as an author of books for our nation's children—to be a blog on which two of the most recent post titles include the words "goddamn," "bitch," and "douche basket?"

The thing is, though, that the agents kind of stopped being who I wrote this blog for somewhere around my third or fourth post. I began to get readers who were not children, but were rather new writers just like myself. And some of them seem to find me funny, much to my bewilderment but also great relief.

Because, you see, I don't know how to blog and not turn the whole thing into a joke. Sure, some days I'll be in the mood to write a serious post about writing, and it'll actually inspire other writers, and it'll be this amazing, beautiful, wholesome thing for all involved. Sometimes I'll even get my shit together enough to have a writing contest that people will actually enter, despite there being no prize but a sense of writerly community and an imaginary spaceship.

But those are a lot harder for me to spin out than a silly post about how to pronounce "Karger" or an explanation of why I should never have to do anything on my birthday, ever. The fact that these are the posts that get the highest traffic also shows that they are what's really working on this blog. Writerly posts mainly appeal to writers, while the funny ones can appeal to everyone.

I swear a lot in my attempts at humorous writing—I always have. I could ramble for days about why swearing makes things funnier, but Jenny Lawson's already done it in fourteen words:

There's no real way to explain it—cursing can infuse just about any dull sentence with a generous dollop of hilarious flavor. 

"I went to the grocery store today and got some Klondike bars."


"I went to the motherfucking grocery store today and got some motherfucking Klondike bars."

"I'm sorry you didn't get that promotion at work."


"Fuck those fucking asshats at your job. And their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers ... extended family, too. Just fuck all of them."

"I do not enjoy people who don't walk up the really narrow subway escalators."



I enjoy all sorts of words, and curses are most definitely amongst the ones I enjoy most. Spoken in anger, curses can do a great deal of damage—I'm certainly not contesting this. But I can say quite seriously that I have never, and will never, curse in anger on this blog.

I swear with the aim of entertainment. I swear because it makes me chuckle to do so. I swear because posting three times a week with my work schedule is difficult, and curses count for easy laughs.

One of the things I love most about words is not the words themselves, but how we can twist and bend them into so many different shapes. Curses can be harmful and horrible, and I discourage you Velocininjas from ever using them in your ninja fights.

But if you decide you want some gummi bears, I hope to God you announce that you want some



Because it's just so much funnier that way.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Moral Quandaries: Who can I buy a computer from without feeling like a soulless douche basket?

I feel gross about Apple computers in a lot of ways. I hate to think of the underage kids in China living in Orwellian dorms, standing for hours to build iPhones and using poisonous chemicals to clean iPad screens.

I also do not enjoy seeing kids over here constantly glued to their iPods/Pads/Paninis (coming in 2016). I worry for them. It's tough enough making friends as a kid. I worry that these increasingly slim pieces of technology will allow the shyer kids to wall themselves off from other people before they've even had the chance to try developing some social skills. 

All of that said; there's one thing I have to give to Apple: Apple products automatically lower the volume to non-deafening levels when you plug in headphones.

If this is possible, WHY DON'T PCS INCLUDE THIS? It can't be about respecting Apple's design—those computer dudes copy off each other all the time. I'm looking at you, Apple. You know you took Xerox's computer design way back in the day. 

This makes me think the guys at Microsoft hate people who frequently forget to turn the volume down when plugging in headphones, and have a secret plot to slowly deafen us all.

So when I buy my next computer, I have to buy it from a corporation who horribly treats its Chinese child employees, or one who gets off on gradually deafening the innocent masses (and probably is also no stranger to crappy treatment of Chinese employees). These are the moral quandaries we face as consumers, I guess. 

I'd buy a typewriter but I'm pretty sure Zooey Deschanel has them—literally all of them—stored in a warehouse painted with polka dots somewhere.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Short Post and a Song #5: Jillian-Proofing

Sometimes I wonder if I should baby-proof my apartment. I don't have kids and I'm not pregnant. I'm just really fucking clumsy.


"Apartment" by Young the Giant

To any of you writers out there working on a happy or romantic scene: I give you this song to write to. If it's not already on the soundtrack of something, the music supervisors of the world need to get on that shit. The sound of this song makes me think of bonfires on the beach, running on the boardwalk, and falling in love.