Sep 09

Distracted by a few things this week

Packing.  This weekend I’m flying out to SF to visit MB, and have been obsessed with what I can bring.  I have five space saver bags worth of clothes, some his, some mine.  Since I’ll be checking my luggage, I’m bringing a whole bunch of beauty products (mostly mine), as well as a bunch of cords and guitar gear that he left behind. Plus my laptop, PLUS his ukelele.  Comes down to one largish suitcase, one duffel bag, one shoulder bag, and his uke case.  I think I’ll be okay.  Plus I’ll be able to leave almost everything and have a light trip back on Sunday.

I’ve also started attacking the stuff we’ll be moving to my parents’ house.  The ‘rents got on my nerves over the weekend about our storing furniture and whatnot there – they weren’t giving me a hard time, but were bickering with each other about asking their painters (they have had the house repainted this week) to move furniture without tipping them.  My mom’s theory is that the’re moving stuff anyway, and my dad’s is at least give them a little something for doing something extra. 

Then my mother got all up in my grill about what we were keeping and not keeping.  For example, the small fridge MB got.  I was just going to leave it behind, but my mother wanted me to move it, which meant upping the movers’ estimate, as well as cleaning out, unpluffing, and defrosting the fridge, yet another thing on my long list of things to do.  She did finally let up, but it made me not want to deal with them at all and just move our stuff cross country.

Then MB talked some sense into me: when he was moving cross country a few years ago, the estimates he got were in the $3,000 range, too much for me.  Plus we’d have to store our stuff for three months, not a lot of money, but then pay movers again in December when our sublet’s up.

“Plus we’ll probably come back to New York,” he said.  “It’d be nice to have all this stuff when we come back.”

Okay.  Researching cross country movers would have been yet another thing to do anyway.

Giving my notice.  Which I did, officially, yesterday.  Remote working, even temporarily, is a no go, so my last day is on the 25th.  I keep thinking that’s a month away, but it’s only two weeks!  Okay, breathe.

I’m past my fear of not having a job, and not too worried about the projects I need to finish up around here.  I’ll do my best, and if I can’t finish them in time, then someone else will do it.  Oh well.

I’ve realized nothing is forcing me to keep this job.  MB is working, we don’t have a mortgage, we don’t have kids right now, and I have some moola saved up.  Now’s actually the perfect time to take some time off and write.

Another thing I realized is that nothing around here is a matter of life or death, and yet people get so worked up.  My current department isn’t so bad, but my old one, marketing, was always getting in a tizzy over artificial deadlines and deliverables (ack, that word).  Why are we working all hours?  Cuz the boss said so.  I ran into an old co-worker yesterday, who told me about another colleague who is apparently incredibly mean to her assistant.  Yelling, hostile emails.  I mean, why?  What could warrant such behavior?  An unexpected meeting?  Jeez, lady, get your priorities straight.

Although this job is about a million times better than my previous one, I still worry sometimes.  Far less than when I was in marketing, but it’s still there.  I realize – a third thing – that I’ve been worried off and on for the past seven or eight years, ever since I moved up from admin. Worried about dealing with unreasonable people, about projects that I’ve put off, about having to present, about having to speak in a meeting, about living up to – or not living up to – whatever expectations my boss and co-workers had.  It will be a relief to not have to worry about work, at least for a little while.

Right now I feel like work keeps interrupting my life.  What do you mean I can’t work out because I have a meeting?  But I need to go to the post office and send more Amazon items.  Don’t you see I’m trying to write a blog post here?

Other people’s success.  This week I found out two people from my past have had publishing successes, one book and one article in a well-known magazine.  I’m really happy for the first person, who is really nice, but I’m blah about the second (okay: it’s someone I dated).  I shouldn’t be jealous but I am!  Although the book is in a subject that I’d never write about, and it’s not like I’ve been trying to get published, I still feel a pang.  I’m trying to take this jealous energy and turn it into something positive – to take a clue from the Secret (shut up) and envision a successful writing career, and work like hell to get myself there.

It’ll take a personality adjustment.  While I can get obsessed over projects, I give up sort of easily.  With fiction the whole trying to get published process is much slower.  You send out your letters or emails, and you wait.  With nonfiction you have to move fast fast, especially when writing about timely subjects.  You need to network more and get yourself out there.  Who knows: maybe it’s the same with fiction, but I just didn’t know it.

Aug 09

Bye-bye Buffy, Goodbye Girls

Now that I’m getting ready to move (again!), I’ve been getting rid of tons of stuff. Last time my focus was on clothes, and I managed to donate several giant garbage bags to Housing Works. This time it’s papers, books, CDs, and DVDs.

Over the weekend I was a shredding machine, obliterating piles of junk mail, old receipts, and files. This has been really freeing. Why for years had I been keeping my ATM receipts and keeping track of them in my checkbook? Even with the advent of online checking, I still kept doing this, and then would try to match my checkbook balance to my balance online. Why??? Last month my balance was so off, I finally decided, Fuck it, and no longer collect those receipts in my wallet like some kind of bag lady collecting newpapers to keep her warm at night.

But what’s been most freeing is selling my DVDs. I started collecting box sets of my favorite TV shows – namely, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Gilmore Girls – around the time of my divorce. I didn’t care that reruns for both shows were on all the time. I wanted to be able to watch them whenever I wanted, and to just know that they were there, sitting on my shelf, like a good friend who lives in your town but whom you don’t see very often.

When I moved into in the city, I didn’t have cable right away. So how did I occupy myself every night when I came home to an empty apartment? Watched all my Buffy and Gilmore Girls videos. That was back in 2005, and I probably haven’t watched them again since. But I kept them on my shelf, collecting dust, and didn’t get rid of them when I gave up my place and moved in with MB. We didn’t have much room so I brought them to my office and kept them in a file cabinet. When I changed jobs and offices, I dragged them with me.

Now I’ve sold them off on Amazon. If I made the effort, I could have brought them to San Francisco, or stored them at my parents’ house, but I just don’t need them anymore. It’s not only that I’ve watched all the episodes so many times, I have them memorized, but I feel like they’re from another part of my life, a part that’s behind me. I don’t need Lorelai to comfort me anymore through junk food and witty quips, or Rory to help me feel okay for being nerdy. Buffy no longer has to protect from demons (real or in my head), and I don’t have to gather strength from evil Willow to be a bad ass.

I don’t think it’s as simple as, Now I’m with MB, I don’t need the security of my fave shows anymore. I was probably ready to part with them sooner, the further I moved away from my divorce, the more I remembered who I was outside of a relationship, outside of helping and worrying about other people all the time. I’d like to think by the time I met MB, I had grown (am still growing) and was ready for a relationship.

But not only am I leaving behind some DVDs, I’m leaving an entire city, the city where I met the Ex, got married, got cheated on, and got divorced. Where I started dating again. Now that I’ve resolved that I’m okay with that – not just okay, that I’m excited about it – shucking some TV shows is a piece of cake.

But I’ll still totally watch the reruns on Hulu.

Apr 09

A philosophical birthday post

  • Noodles eaten? Check.
  • Birthday wishes received? Check.
  • Generous gift from parents? Check (thanks Mom!).
  • Beauty-product related present and upcoming homecooked meal from MB? Check.
  • Contemplating the end of the world as we know it as I creep yet another year closer to 40 and away from 35? Double check, but not today. :)

This year is the first time in a long time that I’ve actually been too busy to think too much about my birthday. Every day I think, What schoolwork do I have to do? Will I have time to get a workout in? What are we having for dinner tonight? What’s on Hulu?

Last night MB asked me if I felt any different now that I’m 37. Not really. I feel different than a few years ago, and certainly than several years ago, but I don’t think age has anything to do with it.

What with learning, or trying to learn, about phenomenology in one of my classes, I’ve been thinking a lot about Buddhism. The two seem similar, and it’s easier for me to understand the concepts in Buddhist terms rather than in the terms philosophers use. For instance, phenomenology (which is a bitch to spell) talks about a pre-reflective state – a state in which you are basically simply living in the moment, and not reflecting on it, or the past moment, or the next. Philosophers say it’s basically impossible to reach this state, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a snippet here and there. In Buddhism this seems to be enlightenment.

What the two also seem to have in common is the awareness of the body. While for Descartes, the “mind” was separate from the body, in phenomenology the body is always present and inseparable from the mind, whatever that is. So in design principles, the body also has to be taken into account, not just the mind. In Buddhist meditation, the practice seems to involve concentrating on your body and how it feels, and moving through each part of it.

Something I try to keep in mind, and which may or may not have to with Buddhism, are the ideas of illusions and perception. Sometimes I get worried – about the future, about stuff that hasn’t even happened – and in the past I’d get caught in this cycle of imagining whatever might happen again and again, and getting more and more upset, as though it had really happened.

Now when I feel myself falling into that cycle, I try to tell myself, Those are illusions, they’re not real, you made them up.

In terms of perception, again when I start to worry about stuff like having to give a presentation or some annoying task at work, I try to remind myself that what I’m worrying about is actually not so bad – only my perception makes it seem that way Like presenting – I get deathly afraid, but there’s nothing to be afraid of if I’m prepared. I’m not in danger; no bodily harm will come to me. And any psychological distress is from myself and how I think I’m coming off.

I tell myself it’s okay to feel that way. I acknowledge my nervous feeling, my heart pounding, and my stomach tightening, and take deep breaths to try to alleviate those physical reactions. If I boil down my nervous feeling to just a pounding heart and tight stomach, it seems easier to tackle, and without judgment. The heart and stomach aren’t good or bad, they just are.

Anyway, it takes lot of practice.

Something else I like to try to remember is a quote from Damages, of all things. A character basically says that in hell there is no present, there is only the past and future. This isn’t to say that that to not be in hell there can’t be a past or future, but there has to be a present too.

And presents, preferably. :)

Dec 08

I feel good today for some reason

I mean, I usually feel pretty good, but it *is* Monday, which normally calls for the blahs.

Could be because my new boss has started, and I finally have some real work to do. Being bored really does take a toll on morale, even for lazy someones like me. Also, I’m all done with school assignments, and I have just one more class, this Thursday, which will be discussing a bunch of readings. Finally, I’ve had a good couple of conversations with my mom recently.

She seems to be holding back her worries, namely her vision of MB’s and my “future” – ie, getting married and buying properpty, contrary to *our* vision of not getting married (but still having kids, scandalous!) and traveling the world – and is enjoying the idea of my being happy for a change, or again her vision of my being happy which equals being with someone who treats me well. I was perfectly fine on my own, but my parents will never believe that.

My mother and I are so alike with our worrying. Sometimes now I wake up and think, Shouldn’t I be worrying about something? Before my worries mostly had to do with my job. How awful it was! The demanding, incomprehensible boss with career expectations for me that I didn’t want! The forced socializing with sales people! The high-pressure presentations! I’d wake up at 3 in the morning and apply online to random, low-paying jobs, that’s how bad it was. I thought about quitting and being jobless. I thought I’d like to do something completely non-stress, like being a crossing guard.

This weekend I had the chance to work on my manuscript. Rereading it is always like reliving the past, though not in a harmful way. They’re far enough away that I have some distance, and reliving them sometimes reveals more memories, more layers to add. I remember visiting my cousin in Portland shortly after she came from China, and how she and her husband were so lovey dovey, to the point I wanted to shout, “Get a room!” They didn’t make out in public, but they’d do things like blow each other kisses, write “I owe you one kiss”on a post-it and put it up, tell each other that they loved each other in front of everyone.

Yeah, actually, it was kind of gross.

But at the time, it also made me feel lonely. I was married and I knew my husband loved me, but we were never like that. We never got so carried away we forgot about the rest of the world. He was always very concerned about what others thought. But at the time, I didn’t let myself think that it made me lonely, watching my cousin and her husband. I just made snide remarks.

I’m also glad I never had a kid with my ex. One, I’d still be connected to him, and two, there was so much pressure from his family. “I want my grandsons to go to Eton,” my ex-FIL said one time. There are so many things wrong with that statement, I don’t even know where to begin.

~ ~ ~

Now the boring update! :) Friday night was lazy for me. MB suggested going to a late movie, but I was so tired, we just watched a bunch of stuff on Hulu.com, and I went to sleep before midnight.

Saturday I worked on my writing a little before we headed out to run some errands. It was freezing that day, and really hard to motivate myself to get outside. But I did, and that night we ate at this soba noodle place for the first time, Soba Koh, on East 5th Street. It was so good and perfect for that wintry night. We both had the early bird special for $19: a daikon salad, egg custard with crab (and other weird things), and hot or cold soba with a variety of tempura. We both got hot.

It didn’t look like a lot of food but it was pretty filling. The tempura was really good. I’m used to it with a ton of batter, but these were perfect. Also included is ice cream, vanilla or green tea.

Later we saw a midnight showing of Poltergeist at IFC. It was fun, not scary, since I’ve seen the movie so many times. As a kid it scared the shit out of me, especially that clown doll. Also, Jo Beth Williams and Craig T. Nelson are really good in it! If they weren’t so good, the movie would have been over the top and cheesy.

Sunday I was able to get more writing done, despite getting up at 11. We didn’t do much except grab a late lunch at 3. We went to one of our usual places, Zucco: Le French Diner, where I had for the first time, something du dimanche. Ack, I can’t remember the name! Anyway, as the name implies it’s served only on Sundays: a potato cake filled with goat cheese and topped with a poached egg, served with ratatouille and lamb sausage.

I totally just made myself hungry.

Some of my other favorite dishes are the pain perdu, or French toast; the pate sandwich, which is served with cornichon, these delicious little pickles; and the risotto des legumes. The coffee is really good too.

I need to eat lunch soon.

May 08

Friday mishmash

Last night we saw Iron Man. It was very cool.

Robert Downey, Jr. is the man. He totally made the movie. Also, the action was nicely spaced out. MB would prefer 2 hours of nonstop fight scenes, but I liked that the middle slowed down a little and built up to a good finale. The only thing I didn’t like was Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, who couldn’t decide if she was a smart, efficient assistant, or a ditz in stilettos.

There were some good previews too. What looks promising: Prince Caspian, The Incredible Hulk, and You Don’t Mess with Zohan (in a stupid way). What looks bad, unless the payoff is very very good: The Happening. What’s up in the air: the new Indiana Jones. That came last and compared to the other trailers, it seemed quiet and old-fashioned. But who knows. Either way, lots of movies to see this summer.

We got back very late and didn’t get to sleep till 3. Tired again.

Tonight there’s a birthday party – the girlfriend of one of MB’s friends. I’ve met her once and have no idea how old she is. I know his friend is about 29, so she could easily be 10 years younger than me. Yikes! I think I’ve mentioned that MB is little more than 2 years younger than I am. I don’t think about it when we’re together; it’s more like we’re the same age. But then I think about it, and it’s kind of hot. ;)

This weekend the theatre near us has midnight shows of Alien. We are so there. I’m psyched because I’ve never seen it on the big screen. In fact, I’ve never seen any of the Aliens on the big screen.

I’m finally officially all moved into my new place. Tuesday night MB and I went to my place, and threw out a bunch of last minute stuff, including a few big pieces the new tenant doesn’t want. Luckily MB was there because I wouldn’t have been able to bring down the shoe cabinet, coffee table, and surprisingly heavy microwave. We were done within an hour.

As we left I felt a little sad. After all that place has been home for the past three years. I got to know my neighborhood and neighbors. The old guy who ran the antiques store next door, the Chinese lady who ran the laundromat and with whom I sometimes chatted in Mandarin, the young guy at Le Pain Quotidian who served up my mochas on the weekends.

While MB’s neighbordhood is cooler and less stuffy, I will miss lots of things about my part of town. The Park especially, being just a few blocks away. The plethora of delis and bagel shops. The chain clothing shops (so I’m not so cool).

There must be delis in MB’s neighborhood, but I’ve yet to find where I can get a standard coffee and bagel, instead of some fancy schmancy pastry and too expensive Americano. There are clothing stores in his area but they are all super expensive boutiques.

What I won’t miss in my neighborhood is the very expensive laundromat. $3.50 a load! MB’s is just $1.50. I didn’t even know I was being ripped off. I also won’t miss the people, who are mostly snooty high-rise dwellers with BMW-like strollers or else lots of plastic surgery (sometimes both). The LES neighborhood is more of a mix – hipsters, long-residing artist types, Indian families, Chinese families, and people like us.

Another good thing about MB’s ‘hood is that people tend to want to hang there more. It’s a challenge to try and get people to come uptown. Plus now I live near YP, yay! We are basically on opposite ends of Houston Street.

The end of a single girl era. Three years was quite enough time to get to know and love myself again, and to explore life and what I want to do. I’m ready now for whatever happens next.

Dec 07

2007: What I Learned

It’s that time again! But rather than do a month-by-month, as I’ve done in the past, this year I’ve decided to do a post on 32 things I learned. Why 32? Cuz that’s how many there are.

1) L.A. has awesome food and my cousin’s baby Mia is adorable.
2) New York has awesome food too
3) I love running (duh).
4) I like to procrastinate by writing about procrastination.
5) An awesome 8-hour date doesn’t necessarily lead to happily ever after.
6) I’m supposedly negative.
7) I’m no good at being positive.
8) I’m good at ranting about someone I hate.
9) I’m supposedly a worrier.
10) At the time I can be very positive about a breakup, and in retrospect I can recognize when someone has been projecting their anxiety onto me and making me feel like I’m the anxious, worried one, when I wasn’t before meeting said individual.
11) When someone answers, “Let’s just live in the moment,” to your question, “Are you dating anyone else?” it’s a red flag.
12) When someone tells you his ex was also Asian, and when you say it’s not a big deal, and he says, “Don’t repress your feelings,” it’s really him that has a problem with his ex also being Asian and not you.
13) When someone who is not drinking insists that you shouldn’t feel the need not to drink just because of him although you’ve told him a million times that you are allergic to alcohol, that it’s him who really wants a drink.
14) A man who NEVER lets you pay your half, at the same time complaining that he’s poor and after you’ve offered to pay, has a real problem.
15) Hindsight is 20/20.
16) Bastard.
17) 35 can be a really depressing birthday.
18) I like TV.
19) 35 is not too late for a career change.
20) Las Vegas sucks.
21) D.C. does not.
22) Bear Grylls rocks.
23) So does running in Central Park.
24) So does a steam pipe explosion in midtown, which I somehow don’t hear.
25) One fun date with a history professor also doesn’t mean happily ever after.
26) Library science is popular. Who knew?
27) Naked comedy doesn’t equate pretty, or even funny, comedy.
28) A first date in a dark bar is not a good idea.
29) A first date in a well-lit musem is.
30) Dressing up for Halloween can be fun as hell.
31) Seeing naked comedy can be even less fun than it was the first time.
32) It’s possible to find the right person.

Sep 07

Honest Anna May

So my date on Thursday was pretty fun. The guy, BH, is rather soft-spoken and has an endearing laugh. He laughed at most of my jokes, which is a plus for me. He’s a musician/software programmer, and is from Australia, and you know I’m a sucker for that kind of accent.

I was having a good time up till the end, when he became, uh, overly enthusiastic, not in a physical way but an asking way, and I politely yet clearly said it was too soon for that. Afterwards, I was rather turned off, though I guess you can’t blame a guy for trying, and I assumed he’d go the way of the history professor (ie, no nookie = no dating).

But then last night he called. Actually first he emailed me because it turned out I had written my phone number incorrectly. (That’s what two glasses of wine will do to me.) When we spoke he said, “I was sad when the number didn’t work,” and I joked that he must have thought I gave him a made up one.

And then basically he apologized for jumping the gun. He said he tends to make up his mind about things pretty quickly, but sensed that I probably wanted to move more slowly. I confirmed that, explaining that I’d gotten into situations that were too much, too fast, (ie, H.) and that just died out, and that if I could help it, I didn’t want to go through that kind of thing again. Not that I want a guaruntee that something will last forever, but at least first get to know the other person and where they’re coming from.

Now I realize with H. that he wasn’t ready for what I was ready for, a long-term relationship. I was the first person he had a connection with after his horrible breakup, and I think he was from the beginning in the mentality that this would probably not last for very long. If we had waited and talked more, that would have revealed itself, and maybe I’d have been smarter about getting involved so quickly.

Lesson learned.

My goal here is to be honest honest honest and take things slowly, and if he doesn’t like that, then he’s not the one for me. And not just honest about myself, but to be nosy and ask lots of questions. At the right time, of course, and in a mellow way, not like a psychotic journalist. That’s part of the taking things slowly.

In the past I’ve held back and have just wondered to myself, fearing I’d offend. Fuck that shit.

We’ll be having dinner on Thursday.

~ ~ ~

I’m planning on a very mellow day today. The last couple of weekends were so busy, I’m glad for the reprieve. I was going to go to the ‘rents’, but they’re out tonight and I have plans tomorrow afternoon so it seems silly to go home for such a short time. Next weekend probably.

Try to write this morning. Shopping this afternoon? I want boots! A run around 5 or 6.

Jun 07

Waiting for my real life to begin

So the job has been on my mind a lot lately. I think I’ve written before that I recently got a new boss, who, while a nice person, can be demanding to the point of ridiculousness, ie, asking for absolutely everything as soon as possible.

Keep in mind this is his own internal deadline. There’s no one externally saying, “I need this.”

This is the same complaint that everyone who has worked with him has had.

I’ve been contemplating a job change anyway and thought this my oppourtunity to move to our operations department. Unfortunately, openings, if any, won’t be available till the end of the summer. I can stick it out till then, but I’m getting the feeling, from talking to people and general morale, that there won’t necessarily be that many job postings.

So I’ve been looking outside my company as well, and haven’t had much luck. I just don’t have the experience that would fit in something like media, publishing, or event planning, or else the job I’m qualified for pays a whole lot less than my current one.

My boss and I were talking about my “career” earlier this week, and I expressed my uncertainty about what to do. While he assured me that I’d be good at anything I pursued, he also suggested that I should figure out what I want to do as soon as possible because “then one year will pass, three years will pass, and before you know it, five years have passed and you’re still not doing what you want to do.” He even suggested taking a short leave of absence to do something like an internship at an agency.

Then yesterday it occured to me: ALL THOSE JOBS ARE THE SAME TO ME.

Whether I stay here in marketing, or move to operations, or move to the agency side, they are all the same damned thing. None of them are really what I want to do.

Why do it? It’s not that hard (it’s the personalities that are difficult), it earns me a pretty penny, and let’s face it, it’s comfortable. It’s familiar and easy. I still have time to write. I can fund going to writing events and classes.

But is the writing enough?

Sometimes I ask myself, if money were not an issue, what would I do? The answer is easy: travel the world and write about what I see.

Hmmm. . .

I’m 35. Time is ticking. I’m still not living the life I want to be living. Or I’m living it partway, maybe 1/3 of the way. The rest of the time I’m being lazy and complacent. Or fearful.

There’s something said about comfort. Last night I was walking home and thought, How nice this is. The cool weather, living in the city in my nice area going to my nice apartment. If I live in someplace like China, it will be dirty and not so comfortable and everyone will be staring at me.

But is that a reason not to go?

I look back on the six months I lived there, gosh, almost 10 years ago, and I relish those memories. Of course I don’t think it will be exactly like that. I think it will be better.

And the thing is there’s no rush. I can give myself a year+ timetable.

September 1, 2008.

I also have the right to change my mind. :)

Apr 07

Who shares my birthday?

For some reason I thought I shared a birthday with Hitler, but his isn’t till the 20th. Whew!

What famous people do share this auspicious day?

  • America Ferrara – Ms Ugly Betty herself, who, incidentally, is also a Rat.
  • Melissa Joan Hart – Could never get into Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
  • Jane Leeves – Funny how I so wanted Daphne to get with Niles, but after they did, it was so boring.
  • Hayley Mills – The Parent Trap has everything. Twins, camp, an implausible plot line, and a terrible musical performance. What’s not to love?
  • Rick Moranis – He’ll always be Louis Tully to me.
  • Conan O’Brien – Funniest guy on TV. Plus he has great hair.
  • Eric Roberts – Enjoying him on Heroes. But is it me or has his face taken on a Mickey Rourke-esque quality?
  • Christian Slater – Can anyone say B-list? How ’bout C?
  • James Woods – When I’m his age, I can look forward to dating 18-year olds.

And last but not least:

  • Suri Cruise – Future Scientologist of America, Vanity Fair cover girl, supposed daughter of TomKat.

I don’t feel 35, but what does 35 feel like? I certainly don’t feel 25 (thank God), nor even 29. Maybe I still feel 33.

I pictured 35 taller.

Apr 07

Another one bites the dust

Weekend that is.

Today was a hermit day. It’s been raining and raining, and I haven’t wanted to go outside. I definitely didn’t want to take mass transit, and I didn’t want to walk in the rain just to get soaked. Plus I may have a tiny cold.

The vibe in my writing class is very good. Maybe because the teacher is a good combination of mellow and assertive – and he knows what he’s talking about – and everyone gets along so well. Well, almost everyone. But it’s not like she’s mean, just annoying. And she wasn’t in class on Thursday. Woohoo!

This week’s nugget: literary voice is biological. Some French philosopher said it. Don’t fight your strenghts but play them up. My literary voice is spare and clean. I’ve wished it were richer, like Michael Chabon’s, but I just can’t do it. So I don’t try anymore. I go with what I know.

Friday I took the day off to hit the Small Press Center’s fourth annual New York writers’ conference. I went to almost all nonfiction panels, except during the agent one I left because the focus seemed to be on commercial nonfiction rather than memoir, which is more like a novel. So I popped into the fiction agents panel.

Nuggets from the conference:

  • An author on writers’ group feedback: “If one person says it, grain of salt. But if two people say it, it’s something to consider.”
  • A great title is important. Duh, right? Examples of great titles: The Year of Magical Thinking, Angela’s Ashes, The Lucifer Effect.
  • Something important to agents is to show that you’re really a writer, not someone for whom writing is a hobby or a whim. Show that you’ve tried to get published in the right places, even if you haven’t actually gotten published.

Yesterday was a quiet yet productive day. Spent the morning updating my checkbook and organizing my files. Hung out with SB and Ellie for a few hours in the afternoon. Ellie insisted on walking most of the way to the farmer’s market so that took a year and a half.

She also insisted I come inside afterwards to play. What’s hilarious is that one of her stuffed toys, a hedgehog, somehow got named after one of my friends, Aki, who visited a couple of weeks ago. So all afternoon we’re calling this stuffed hedgehog Aki. “Where’s Aki, Ellie? Go get Aki!”

When it was time for Ellie’s nap (although of course she insisted it wasn’t), I booked, hitting a few stores for provisions. Late in the afternoon I actually felt inspired enough to run. Four miles, woohoo! though my left leg is sore today, from my hamstring through the arch of my foot, which always seems to happen when I run hills outside. I probably overextend.

Today, like I said, was extremely lazy. I’m not dreading work this week, for a change. Last week I finally tackled some stuff I’d been putting off for a long time. I bought this book on how to stop worrying, and I’m beginning to understand my procrastination and worry go hand in hand, that they’re like this vicious cycle that I can break out of by assigning to each “worry” simple steps that have immediate action.

That’s productive worry. Then there’s the unproductive kind, like that I’ll never remarry. But there’s only so much control I have over that and also I should look at the reasons behind this worry. Right now? I just came out of something that seemed promising so I’m bummed and lonely. Am I afraid of being alone? No. Do I feel like I have nothing else in my life? No.

An uncertain future doesn’t necessarily equal a bad future.

Usually I peruse the marriage announcements in the Times to see if there’s anyone I know, but today I looked for people my age or older. There were quite a few actually.

Today I was struck with the idea of saving up to a buy a little house by the water. By what water, who knows. I got a tax refund this year for a change so I feel encouraged in the financial area. I’ve been resistant to looking for something to buy, maybe because I thought I had to live in the city, but I like the idea of a little spinster house, all my own. That would be my dream, to write in my little house and come to the city for long visits, and other friends’ cities for visits, and travel everywhere.