Monday, December 28, 2009

Sick Tick

Today is a sick day. The rare freelancer's sick day. I am wrapped in a blanket on the living room couch, working from home.

Still, even if my body's exhausted, my mind is restless. How many times can you recheck your Facebook home page before the action becomes a tick? Whatever amount that it that transfigures a compulsion into a madness, subtract one, and there I am.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Simply Moving On

I haven't posted in quite a while. The world's been whirring around me, and it just didn't seem appropriate to take the time to blog. Finally, though, it's the holidays.

I've been focused on finishing these MFA applications - focused on earning as much money as I can while I still can earn money - focused on going to the gym and eating like a grown-up (albeit an incidental vegan grown-up) - focused on somehow insistently moving forward, despite the threatening lethargy.

So many things, I hope, will change next year. I am not complaining, though - simply moving on.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Babies

I haven't updated in a bit, mainly because I've been a little bit down and a lot bit busy. Because of this For Profit work, I've had to research a lot of Mommy Bloggers. And, not for the first time, I've found myself irrationally jealous of them. I really envy the community they've created for themselves online.

Being at home alone for hours on end does odd things to a person. I can only imagine what being at home with a baby for hours on end would be like. Perhaps I should ask my sister, babysitter to all of New York.

That is my thought for today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Push Me Pull Me

Yikes, it's been a while.

I've been feeling pretty stressed, actually. For Profit is taking much of my time and making me worry about Non Profit. And poor, poor No Profit (MFA Applications & novel writing) is suffering the most.

I am having trouble balancing my time - trying to survive through the present while still taking the steps I need to encourage a better future. This is exhausting. It is all too easy to feel like a failure here. And that is none too useful.

Alright. Back to work.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend Review

What a day. What a weekend. What a world.

Alright, that may be a bit dramatic.

But this weekend was too much to do again. And so was the week that preceded it. No wonder I think of I have The Mono.

Here is the rundown, starting from my much-suffering return from Mexico, Friday the 6th. This is probably very boring to read if you're not me, but I am God Blogger, so I will write this anyways. Hopefully my next post will be far more entertaining...:

Friday - Returned, finally, from Mexico after endless broken Spanglish tussles with lying people who charged me more money than should allow them to sleep at night (aka, the staff at the Hilton in Mexico City).

Saturday - Caitlin! Brunch at Palo Santo, tromping around Prospect Park, tromping around Central Park, the longest subway ever in Astoria for gentrified Greek food, The Pillowman performed in church, thoughts of going-out, but, even better, sleep.

Sunday - Morning work in the local cafe, brunch at Henry Public, life-reviving Bloody Marys & delightful bartenders to boot, further tipples at the Brooklyn Inn and bocce at Floyd before enormous nightcap burgers at Waterfront Ale House.

Monday - Zoom zoom into midtown to log hours for the For Profit Man (FPM), dinner party at the apartment courtesy of Chef Porchichi and Walnut Muse Cody.

Tuesday - Work at home morning, launch of very cool FPM social media project, Twitter madness, lunch at the wireless-full Building on Bond, good-bye to Caitlin, zoom zoom into midtown, leftovers at home.

Wednesday - Work at home day of slight frustration and frazzled freelance.

Thursday - Meeting with the Non-Profit Man (NPM) all the way out in Queens, afternoon work at home, evening hermitage.

Friday - Zoom zoom into midtown, zoom zoom back to Brooklyn, reading other people's writings, writing nothing at all myself. Mild self-derision and party-time of guilt ensue.

Saturday - Brunch with Ellen and general wandering, questionable shopping choices, further exploration of increasing bocce skills, ChipShop chowder, late night joshing at Brooklyn Inn.

Sunday - Massive bridge walk 1, sixteen cups of coffee on the Lower East Side, massive bridge walk 2, Pratt MFA Open Students for the artsy kids, shady pungent pints at Alibi in Clinton Hill, early dinner and emotive girl-time with Jen at Alchemy.

Monday - Zoom zoom into midtown, zoom zoom back to Brooklyn, deep and ponderous thoughts on The Mono, blogging, bed.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Mono

Maybe I have the Mono.

I have been so exhausted ever since Mexico, and I'm not entirely sure why. Hmmm. I will just stay home, under the covers, and work from here as long as I possibly can. Yes.

Just say no to Mono.

No Mono. No.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Steam Heat

I am feeling very frustrated.

It seems like my day is eaten up by other companies, and yet I'm still struggling to pay my rent. Where is the money from all of this? If I'm going to have the stress of deadlines, deliverables, and client meetings, why must I still have the stress of affording groceries?

It is ridiculous to work this hard and be this poor.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Back in the swing of things - and completely exhausted.

Friday, November 6, 2009



Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mexicana and Me

I have always wanted to spend a night in Mexico City. Yes. And who would have thought that tonight would be my lucky night? Oh, Mexicana Air, that's right. You would.

Unfortunately, this travel debacle isn't 100% Mexicana's fault, but really, when a flight departure time is moved just days before the flight, and the flight is a return international flight in a third-world country, wouldn't you think calling the American ticket-holder on her cell-phone to alert her to the change might not be the best way to get in touch with her? As she's an American? And so is her cell phone?

This wouldn't bother me so much except all my previous interactions with the airline were handled online. Web booking. E-Commerce. Email confirmations. I thought we had a virtual relationship, Mexicana. I didn't know you wanted to take it to the next level. Like a text-to-voicemail-to-call-to-in-person fling, our relationship just moved too fast. I'm not in the right place for this kind of thing, Mexicana. But, oh, how little you care.

Hell hath no fury like an airline's scorn.

I suppose I could have checked my cell phone messages from the hotel landline, incurring gross fees, yes, but still slightly smaller charges than what it cost to amend the flight itinerary after "missing" my flight, and paying for the overnight hotel room in Mexico City.

Yes, I have always wanted to spend a night in Mexico City. Have I always wanted to spend it alone, $350 out of pocket, with some kind of highly unpleasant Mexican flu? Why no. No, not exactly.

No me gusto.

Still, a caballo regalado, no le mires el diente... If it's a burro, though, all bets are off.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bottle 3/4 Full

The last day in Mexico... and I still have 3/4 of my bingo prize tequila left.

It's been a very mellow trip, all neo-nazis aside, and I've gotten some wonderful hours of sun, reading, and sleeping in, along with immensely enjoyable quality time with la mama.

Still, it will be nice to be back - back with my random freelancer's patterns, the wake-up work, the morning gym, the home-cooked lunch, the office afternoons, and the late-night wanderings. I feel so out of touch with my friends right now, it's disorienting.

"Mexico sounds disconnecting," my self-proclaimed muse Jen just wrote me.

So what happens when you lose the chord and shuffle the cards? Spin the tiny orange, green, red, white balls and give in to chance?


And 3/4 a bottle of remaining tequila.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More on The Fireman

The Fireman is a recovering neo-nazi supremacist and I have the Mexican flu.

Perhaps I should partially explain:

My mom arranged a special outing for me and The Fireman. I was okay with this. I will see town, I thought. I will go to Mexican bars. I will experience a bit of la vida loca. Si. Se puede. I am okay with this.

Of course, within five minutes of sitting down on the Jesus bus into Vallarta, I know this is a mistake.

"Man, I remember once," starts The Fireman, "I totally lost my friend for, like, three months after a night out."

Oh. Hmm. I cross my arms.

"We were crazy, you know. Fuck shit up crazy. And he did two 8-balls."

Like pool?

"You know, California 8-balls."

Like cocaine?

"No. Man. Where are you from again? Like California 8-balls are the eight drugs that are supposed to kill you if you combine them. So he did that after we poured liquid acid and PCP on the White Widow, and man, I didn't see that guy for three months."

Did he die?

"Dang no, did he die? Takes more than 8-balls to kill a marine. He just showed up with a baby next time I see him."

A baby? In 3 months?

"Okay, not a baby. But this knocked-up girl. Same thing."


And so begins the Mexican date with The Fireman. Thank goodness for Mama's good choices.

Don't get me wrong - he seems like a very nice guy, this Fireman, though perhaps not quite the guy for me. Maybe it's because I have no prior personal knowledge of the Californian 8-ball of death, nor no pressing need to gather any additional information on that front.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's because he confided in me that he used to be a neo-nazi in all the neo-nazi gangs.

Yes, maybe that's it.

"I told this kid who comes into the EMT, cause I'm working the EMT, I tell him, what the fuck do you have on your chest? You think you're tough shit. You're part of a gang? I'm part of the biggest gang there is, I tell this kid."

I'm along for the ride, now, Fireman. Do tell me, what biggest gang is it that you're a part of?

"I'm part of the Fireman gang."

Oh, thank God, I think, imagining we are out of those proverbial woods. Smokey the Bear has shepherded us from the danger zone once again.

But wait.. he's still talking...

"...and White Power."

White Power?

"You know, neo-nazis."

Can we talk about the Californian 8-balls again?

"Like white supremacy."

So here I sit on the Malecon in Puerto Villarta, after midnight with a complete stranger who regales me with stories about murderous marines ("He shot this Mexican guy at a gas station three times and floored him. But the Mexican, he pulled out a gun first. All on camera. So my marine friend, man, he gets off free. In fact, to his friends, man, he's a hero.") and former racist collectives ("Never used a knife, though. Brought it out, but never used it. And I'm over it. It was stupid. We were young. And the Fireman are a better gang anyway.").

It has taken me 26 years to decide Mama does not know best. Mama knows a killer neo-nazi Fireman. And Mama has left me in the middle of a third-world country with him.

So I politely stand up, my two-liter "Day Off Cocktail" hardly touched, and yawn.

Yes, I am so tired. I'm sorry. I'm getting so, so old. I think I need to go back to the hotel.

And wouldn't you know it, the Fireman is the perfect gentleman. He calls a cab, we head back to Costa Sur, say goodnight, and I'm finally home, safe, alone in my room.

Then the incredible Mexican flu sickness starts.

Ah, vacation. Yes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Q and W

Mom keeps trying to hook me up with The Fireman. Mexican time-share vacations with wily mama - nothing short of a bodice-ripping adventure.

I will not hook up with The Fireman. Instead, I will find anti-social corners under this beautiful palapa and try to get online, send my freelance work to my employers, and dissuade the many little red ants from climbing into the crevices between the Q and W keys on my keyboard. How they do love my Q and W keys, these little bastards.

Halloween was spent at a slightly too-empty donkey bar in town and then with our toes in the sand and Chilean wine in our bellies. Muy bueno.

Last night we tromped past makeshift gravestones along a tiny road down into town. Once there, we feasted on fresh red snapper and sangria, then walked along the waves to the Malecon.

It is so calm here, so peaceful.

I feel things are being worked out, patiently, privately, with the pink bulbous sun, the rich blanket forest, the roadside crucifixes, the insect deaths in my keyboard.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


The single mosquito and I enjoy this midnight quiet here at Playa del Sol.

It's not pure quiet though. There is an organ-based disco tune playing underneath the unmanned palapa bar behind me. The sea breaks at intervals upon the darkened shore. And, my mind races.

Not quite pure quiet.

I am full, now, of so many wishes for so many things long past. Elegy.

There is a beauty in elegy; it just happens to be painful.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mexico City

Sitting in the airport in Mexico City, eleven hours into this twenty-hour journey. But already it's been a trip.

el sparrow naranja

After endless gray-area moments of safety and fear waiting at Euclid Avenue for the Far Rockaway train, I made it to Howard's Beach. On my AirTrain trip, two Europeans became fast friends leaning torsos over me as they inspected the map.

There were sparrows perched on inner beams inside Terminal 8 at JFK.

Mexicana Air is apparently a sub-company of American, but it was all-Spanish all the time. I can say "jugo de naranja y vodka" and "gracias." I survived just fine.

There is no music, no movie, no real-time air travel tracking map on Mexicana. There is jugo de naranja y vodka. Gracias. Uno Mas? Si. (There was actually no uno mas, but there was a sweet little tray to place my coffee cup on at roughly 3am for another cup of pitch black joe.)

Now, in Mexico City, the sun slowly rolls its light around soft hills. I changed two dollars for 24 1/2 pesos. I bought a cereal bar with blackberry jam in it. I didn't understand a word the cashier said. Gracias. No mas naranja.

In two hours, I will be back in the air. Uno mas, jugo de naranja. Uno mas.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Up and Away

I am a stress-eater. This does not mean I eat stress like the ghosts eat Miss PacMan, dominating through devouring. I wish. Instead, I eat cake.

Today I stole a chocolate frosted birthday sliver at 9:15 a.m.

I have now officially reached cake-theft levels of stress.


I leave for JFK in five hours. I leave for Mexico City in nine. I leave for Puerto Villarta in sixteen.

There better be no motherf*ing cake on this motherf*ing plane.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All Night Long

Goodness, I am exhausted. I owe this blog a real post soon, and plan on doing so pre-Mexico escape hatch. Just three more days until the sunshine, Mom-time and CocoLocos kick in. Three. More. Days.

I have so much on my plate right now; I am the Freelance Obese. The Sizzler of Economy 2.0. The Cruise Ship Dinner of Random Employment. No benefits, of course. You have your friends for that, I guess.

Bah - Dum -Dom.

I'll be here all night, folks. Asleep, albeit, but yes. I'll be here all night.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Today's the Day

Today's the day... big event for the NPM.

Cross your fingers for me. Or, even better, if you're in NYC, please stop by. Please.

WHAT: Clothing Swap and Costume Design Party
WHEN: Sunday, October 25th from 3pm-7pm
WHERE: Boxcar Lounge at 168 Avenue B, NY NY
AND: Bring one bag of clothes or a $5 donation
WHY: Creativity is what Halloween was made for

SEE ALSO: Metromix Listing

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Candy

Deep thoughts:

above image courtesy of


Thursday, October 22, 2009

On We Go

Daily blogging, what happened?

Everything is amping up. I'm working with the NPM to throw a big Halloween event, one, of course, with a heavy dose of social media engagement. The real-life part of the event happens this Sunday, but the online component has been going on since last Friday. Things are busy.

In other news, I still have to visit the Crosby Bar for my bar review feature. Haven't done that. I have to rewrite my abysmal personal statement. Haven't done that. I have to rework my short story so it doesn't read like ten pages of question marks. Haven't done that.

But I will just focus and finish all these things. And then, a week from today, I will be sitting under the Mexican sun.

Oh, Puerto Villarta. You are right where I need you to be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Business Casual

Agenda items for today's Fresh-Minted Freelance blog post:
  • The Deja Vu: The big former PR firm where I once worked has asked me back to temp freelance, but in a division that sounds pretty exciting and on projects I think I'd really be able to contribute to.
  • My Meal Plan: I have not been paid from my last job and am currently out of my usual poverty staples of tomato sauce, canned chickpeas, and peanut butter. The last meal I ate was entirely damning - a poor man's tuna casserole. I thought tuna casserole was a poor man's tuna casserole. And then I became too poor to afford it.
  • Dating: My phone rang and the number was NJ. I was wary - NJ calls are always interesting. How right I was. A reporter I'd met in a bar called, asked me on a very entertaining-sounding date and was completely winning on the phone. Perhaps I'll say yes, I thought, but of course I will Google him first. Googled him. He was called the inspiration for Inglorious Bastards - and called that by Harvey Weinstein, no less. Great.
  • Feline Fetish: The cats outside my window right now are either clawing one another to death, or having the most passionate cat lovin' I have ever heard. Perhaps both.
  • Fiction Under Fire: Nearly everything I've ever written (hyperbole alert!) will be dissected in my writing class tonight. This makes me nervous and prone to exaggeration. Gross exaggeration.
  • Hamburgers and Beer: This is what I really want right now - and I don't think I'm going to be getting either anytime soon. Guess it's Chicken of the Sea for me.

One Thousand Words

I missed my chance to write today and now I'm just too tired. So, delight of delights, you get this:

Thank you, Mr. Kandinsky, for filling my silence.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Today is a day of doubts.

I wonder, "What am I doing with my life?" Then I scoff, "That's so general." But I'm not released from the overriding question of meaning - just thrown into temporal specialization. Meaning: "What am I doing with my month; my week; my day; my hour?"

Read Ann Beattie and tell me you can write. Read Amy Hempel and pretend to now be novel. It's impossible. Genius can eclipse potential when that genius is not mine.

Being impressed is not being inspired. And this is painful. If I read one more piece by Flannery O'Connor, I may never write again. Fear of Flying is the single most inspiring work I've ever read, mainy because, from a purely stylistic atandpoint, it was not impressive. I read Erica Jong and thought, "Great story. I could tell it better." And so I found a pen and tried.

Have I ever read Toni Morrison and felt that? Philip Roth? Charles Bukowski? Donna Tartt? No.

Why can't there be more low-hanging fruit?

Why must I feel so incredibly beneath?

What can I possibly bring to a banquet so full?

Why do I feel so empty?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Second Opinion

With Averaged Ranking Score in Parentheses

1. Cornell University (12)
2. University of Michigan (14)
3. University of Wisconsin at Madison (24)
4. Johns Hopkins University (27)
5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (32)
6. University of Texas at Austin (34)
7t. Brown University (38)
7t. University of Virginia (38)
9. Pennsylvania State University (49)
10. University of Minnesota (50)
11. Ohio State University (54)
12. Washington University at St. Louis (56)
13. University of Florida (70)
14. Vanderbilt University (71)
15. Indiana University (73)
16. Purdue University (74)
17. University of Iowa (75)
18. University of California at Irvine (83)
19. Syracuse University (120)
20. [No college/university qualifies].

- Courtesy of the Abramson Leslie MFA Blog

For the Poets & Writers Record

2010 MFA Rankings: The Top Fifty

(of 508)



1University of Iowa in Iowa City2531112122222
2University of Michigan, Ann Arbor16932*164144
3University of Virginia, Charlottesville14424*212127
4University of Massachusetts, Amherst13245*40411530
4University of Texas, Austin13256*1111
6University of Wisconsin, Madison129611*212287
Brown University in Providence12783*1920519
8New York University in New York City12577*++3815
9Cornell University in Ithaca, New York11097*10233
10University of Oregon, Eugene1041512*272975
11Syracuse University in New York972010*573023
12Indiana University, Bloomington931314*681115
13University of California, Irvine91269*2628912
14University of Minnesota, Minneapolis851714829271710
15Brooklyn College, CUNY813913***36*
University of Montana, Missoula7817171747462419
Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore771116*303010*
Vanderbilt University in Nashville7613182325264*
University of North Carolina, Greensboro751019*33311212
Washington University, St. Louis701524*123615
University of Florida, Gainesville672221*13161315
Columbia University in New York City66381910***28
University of Notre Dame in Indiana62342212++32*
Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia5632264++23*
University of North Carolina, Wilmington5622255414239*
Arizona State University, Tempe55192835151818*
Hunter College, CUNY5545226**26*
University of Houston in Texas551134183434N/A6
Colorado State University, Fort Collins532034*4243N/A*
The New School in New York City5347273**41*
Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York5227338**N/A26
University of Washington, Seattle522728***29*
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa51253129218209
University of Arizona, Tucson4932282++4922
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana452240*91021*
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville413145*17241825
George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia40393412++4628
Boston University in Massachusetts393938*++3511
University of Nevada, Las Vegas384831*353533*
Ohio State University, Columbus3527+35793732
University of Maryland, College Park343744****24
Florida State University, Tallahassee3339+*3838**
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge33*46*35**
Rutgers University, Newark in New Jersey33*3712*
University of New Hampshire, Durham3339407****
Pennsylvania State University, University Park32454611281428*
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale312748*1417**
Texas State University, San Marcos31*40*++**
University of Mississippi, Oxford31+40*182516*
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign3034+*4627*
Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond30+38*3132**
Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg3034+*81034*

Note: An honorable mention goes to Bowling Green State University, a two-year program in Ohio that ranks among the top fifty programs in selectivity (#47), total funding (#46), annual funding (#45), and poetry (#48), and received pluses in overall votes and fiction. For a ranking of the additional eighty-eight full-residency MFA programs, click here.