Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mug Half Full

I've found a new coffeeshop, thank goodness. There are a few wayward children round the 5 o'clock hour, but, alas, no breasts have been bared since I've been here today. Quite a change from the now defunct Tea Lounge on ol' Court Street.

You tell 'em, big boy!

Everything seems to be moving forward at a decent clip here in Freelancer Town. My days have suddenly shifted and settled into something akin to a schedule, with allotted hours for breakfast, work, gym, lunch, work, dinner, writing/mayhem. If this cloud of self-doubt, fear, and financial woe weren't dangling down just within the ozone of my universe, I'd really be enjoying life right now. But even with the cloud, this isn't the terror I was expecting. Life is good. Life is perilous as all get out. But life is good.

I had lunch with a high school friend today. Instead of the interaction dragging me back into the insecurities that plagued me a decade ago, I felt comfortable. That really is an amazing thing. Somehow, I have managed to grow up in the past twelve-odd years, despite repeated efforts to the contrary. What a crazy world -- and I'm actually glad, right now, to be in it.

Fancy that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bar Mitzvah Hunters

Not much time today for any real posting, but just in case I don't make it in by midnight, I thought I'd at least put something down. Another MFA class tonight - no more gay stories. Apparently we got that all out of our system early on. Instead, there's one about Bar Mitzvahs and one about hunting. Pretty much as non-gay as it gets -- unless there's a plot twist I'm missing here...

There are infinite ways to become a man, Billy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Game. Set. Match.

First things first: Happy Birthday, Shisho!


Now, alongside Minnesota longings, life goes on. And back in this big apple city of skinny jeans and opera boos, things seem to be puttering on well enough. It looks like I may get to write a recurring feature piece for Metromix all about cocktails and their wily ways. On top of that The NPM has a-okayed my special monthly social media project proposal, which means I will have a whole ton of finagling to do before November 1st, but also less matchstick selling in my coal-stained petticoat rags. Everything's such a give and take...

And finally, as a complete and total sidenote, I was just looking on Google Images for a picture for this post. I typed in "poor little princess" as the keyword and you know what the third image that came up was? A girl I've known since age 11 who recently was sent off to Riker's for alleged grand larceny.


Well, there we go, matchsticks. There we go.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

December Looms

I can look out my window, over the garden between us, and right into the eyes of a man on his balcony.


Instead of staring at strangers, I thought I'd make a list of grad schools I plan to apply to come December.

  • Objective: Be accepted by an MFA creative fiction-writing program at a reputable graduate school.
  • Ideal: Financial assistance, teaching/fellowship opportunities, strong alumni base, opportunity to take courses in poetry writing and literary criticism.

With all that in mind - and with the help of P&W's amazing article, Show Me the Money:
  1. Indiana University - Bloomington (#7; Bloomington, IN) - Why? Bloomington is a wonderful university town and when I visited it back in 2004, I fell a little bit in love with it. Plus the program has amazing funding, and the school pays for the 3 years of tuition and offers (but doesn't guarantee) teaching opportunities and stipends to all creative writing candidates. One of the peak pros here, too, is that the teaching jobs are all in undergrad creative writing - and not in making resentful freshmen read and reread Moby Dick.
  2. Ohio State University (#11; Columbus, OH) - Why? It's another fully-funded 3-year program with teaching opportunities. Also, I know and love Columbus, Ohio and have many friends in the area. Never a bad thing.
  3. University of Minnesota (#14; Minneapolis, MN) - Why? It's got great funding, good teaching options, a commitment to the local community, respected faculty and the option to take one course completely outside of the English Department. And it's a 3-year program.
  4. University of Mississippi (#?; Oxford, MS) - Why? I'm a Faulkner fan so Oxford has always piqued my interest. This relatively new, 3-year, well-funded program has incredibly high expectations for its incoming students, but returns the investment with a whole series of community-based programs that would certainly enrich my learning experience. Also, Beth Ann Fennelly, a poet I much admire, is currently a faculty member.
  5. University of Florida - Gainesville (#8; Gainesville, FL) - Why? Incredible funding makes this school stand out. And, honestly, their MFA website was so beautiful, so well-crafted, and so inviting that I can't imagine they are not heavily invested in this program. Honestly, the page is leagues beyond the others out there, and as silly as that is, that, coupled with the funding, the commitment to teaching, the arts community and the 3-year length make this one of my top five choices.
  6. Cornell University (#6; Ithaca, NY) - Why? Cornell has the second-best funding of any MFA program, with full tutition paid for students and $24,000 teaching stipends. Cornell only hires a few of its grads after the program. Still, Ithaca is a fairly affordable place to live - cheaper than NYC, of course, but also cheaper than Ann Arbor. This program is 2 years, not 3 like Bloomington's or Austin's - something also worth considering.
  7. University of Oregon - Eugene (#10; Eugene, OR) - Why? Well, Eugene is beautiful. Also, the 2-year program offers full-funding. Also, you can secure teaching positions for stipend money -- and instead of teaching Freshman English, students teach creative writing.
  8. University of Virginia (#3; Charlottesville, VA) - Why? This fully-funded program has one of the best reputations in the country. However, it's a 2-year program.
  9. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (#4; Ann Arbor, MI) Why? They pay your way in full and throw in a generous stipend ($16,000 a year, $6,000 a summer) and healthcare to boot. In exchange, you can teach English courses at the university -- a skill and experience I very much want to have on my resume. However, this is another 2-year program.
  10. Brown University (#7; Providence, RI) - Why? Brown has a killer reputation, decent funding, and a great alumni community. It's a 2-year program.
  11. Iowa Writer's Workshop (#1; Iowa City, IA) - Why? It is widely considered the best school in the nation for its graduates' eventual impact on American fiction, the big names it draws in terms of professors, and its potential funding (not guaranteed, though, and reportedly fairly stressful and difficult to secure two years in a row). Also, it's a 2-year program.
  12. University of Texas - Austin (#9; Austin, TX) - Why? It's the best-funded program in the nation; the entire 3-year program is free to attend if you're one of the luck 10-12 writers accepted and they give MFA students a $25,000 "no-teaching" stipend, health care, and an additional $2,000 each summer to finance one's writing. Also, the school is, obviously, in Austin, a city in which I've always wanted to live (though, ignorance be told, I've never even visited the place). The only downside is they do not allow students to teach while attending - a key reason I want to go to grad school.
Other schools that offer full (or almost full) tuition remission and teaching stipends include: University of Notre Dame (#?; Notre Dame, IN), University of Missouri - Columbia (#?; Columbia, MO), Vanderbilt University (#?; Nashville, TN), University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa (#11; Tuscaloosa, AL), Washington University at St. Louis (#?; St. Louis, MO), Arizona State University - Tempe (#?; Tempe, AZ), John Hopkins University (#2; Baltimore, MD), Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge (#?; Baton Rouge, LA), Penn State University - University Park (#11; University Park, PA), University of California - Irvine (#4; Irvine, CA), Syracuse University (#?; Syracuse, NY), University of Nevada - Las Vegas (#?; Nevada, LV), Texas State University (#?; San Marcos, TX), West Virginia University (#?; Morgantown, WV) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (#?; Blacksburg, VA).

If anyone has any thoughts on this, please do share. This is a little bit of wilderness in my world, and I'd much appreciate any semblance of a map.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Edible Manhattan

What a jam-packed day! Heading to the Edible Manhattan party at South Street Seaport right this minute.

Stay tuned...

Friday, September 25, 2009

John the Baptist

I may need to get another job. I'm thinking service industry. Cue mild terror and intense curiosity. A friend of mine, let's call him John the Baptist, just snagged a position at The Norwood, a hyper-creative members-only club in just-barely Chelsea. That could be okay. I would obviously be "the help," but at least I could refill water glasses for Salman Rushdie. And duck should the fatwa ensue. Sounds like the ideal twenty-something NY experience, no?

Please keep your fatwas to yourself, Mister Rushdie.


Thursday, September 24, 2009


I don't wanna talk today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yo. Cut It.

Last night's MFA class went well. No one told me to go into picture books. Success. But despite that pepper-upper, I'm feeling the full force of freelancer's malaise today. I keep wondering what people must be thinking about me. This is never a good thing.


In reality, I think we waste just as many hours of the day seated at a desk in an office as we do working from home. Actually, we may waste less at home, because at least here, procrastination comes in the guise of a thorough house-cleaning or laundry sorting. But being my own boss, I feel incredible guilt for every minute unaccounted for.

I need to pay more attention to silver linings, less to stuffing. I have the freedom, now, to go to the Hamptons Film Festival, to attend art show openings, to take the amazing MFA class. And not only that, I have the training and (occasional) confidence to network while I'm there. Which means I'm not completely not working.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Super Sub-Textually Gay

Another MFA prep class tonight - and my work's under the group's gaze. As I mentioned earlier, the workshop has a silent subtitle none of us knew upon entry: An MFA Prep Course: Give Us Your Gay.

And the silent 7th step: Now Go Be Happy and Super Sub-Textually Gay!

Yup, you heard me right. Every single story we've read so far has focused on gender-bending and as much as I hate to admit it, my submission's not totally in the clear, either. What is it about my generation, perhaps this specific fiction-writing central-Brooklyn-dwelling slice of it, that so wants to explore gender and the dramatic tension of homosexuality? And why am I doing it too? Where are the good ol' boy stories of dogs with horrible diseases that Pa needs to shoot, or the Great War ambulance drivers impregnating frigid nurses, or fourteen-year-olds doing blow? Where are the traditional story-lines on which we were raised?

Well, I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Seriously, though -- more stories with minors doing hard drugs. Less with the same middle-class twentysomethings trading chaste kisses in the name of sexual exploration. It takes a village, after all.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wide Open Spaces & Negative Butt Brush

To spend over ten hours outside my apartment is both a challenge and a gift. Ah, the freelancer's life. Such new challenges I never thought I'd consider challenges, let alone confront and survive.

This looks nothing like anywhere I was today - but it does look exactly how I felt. Here's to wide open spaces outside the dwelling-place.

The Novel-T party, by the way, was an out-and-out success. I have no idea what sales were, but from the monochrome eye-scape, it looked good. (To explain that: the shirts are all gray - so if all I saw were gray, all Novel-T saw that day was green. Well done, fellow liberal arts kids. Shirk that 9-to-5. Shirk it all the way to the bank.)

Here's the line-up. And I think we all know the pitch by now...

Today was spent on errands. I may well be the only woman running mid-day errands on Court Street without a stroller. Every mother I pass is looking at me like I used to look at those "Spot the Difference" illustrations. No, the tea kettle isn't floating in this frame; I just don't have any offspring in tow. The negative space of my non-Bugaboo is extreme and offensive, I know, but I think we can move beyond this. At least it minimizes the butt brush effect.


Post-errands, I returned (sans bebe) to the Teat Lounge. No breast-feeding this time. However, there were ample 6- to 10-year-olds around, playing games like Clack This Loud Plastic Thing on the Cafe Counter Until Mom Screams at Me and Even the Barista Blushes and Looks Away Demurely. An awesome game I fondly remember myself. That was good fun for all involved.

Kids scream the darndest things.

The night then segued into the search for a well-lit bar, so I could have a glass of wine or two ( or seventeen, you damn Clacky kids) while still working. Mission accomplished at the most unlikely of places, a small Irish pub with slightly-too-often Karaoke nights, blood sausage brunch, and an abhorrent Pinot Grigio for cheap. Two hours and $8 later, I was done for the night and somehow, proudly, heading home after multiple hours in The Outside World.

Well done, I think - and the phantom baby agrees.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

And on the Seventh Day...

What a whirl of a weekend!

That's one for my baby - and one more for the road.

From the 10-mile-plus trek to Sunset Park and back for dos tacos tripa y dos tacos lengua to high dive whiskey pours to a massive bridge crossing for Sardinian salad and garlic bruschetta I still feel in the back of my throat to a 1 a.m. dance party with DJ's text-messaged compliments to Canal Street strolls in the two o'clock hour... and that was only Friday...

Yes, dear extremely assertive Sardinian garlic, you are with me still.

Yesterday was the Great Pancake Debate (fillibustered, in the end, by a limited LIRR train schedule and the pressing need to arrive in East Hampton "for party") to hiding behind platform dividers from former one-night flings to Long Island baby time, excessive adventures in espresso input, deer provocation, amazing avuncular bourbon negronis (vives les boulevardiers), star gazing, securing Hamptons International Film Festival on my resume as a bold-faced pro-bono client, hobnobbin' in large Russian hats, rehashing hobnobbing sans large Russian hats, post-midnight bedtimes and pre-dawn risings.

Just one more reason to marry up...

Today was an achingly early commute (there is no peak more "off" than 7:08 on a Sunday morning), long and muzzy train time, the long-awaited respite under covers, and - soon - the Novel-T launch party way the way out in Red Hook.

...just one more reason not to.

Okay, team exhaustion, time to lengthen the laundry list...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jumpy Gorilla

Holy Christ, I am so hopped up right now.

This is honestly the most active gorilla picture I could find. Somehow "jumpy gorilla" did not yield very many Google images... at least no appropriate ones.

Well, I certainly learned one thing: there are no breast-feeding mothers at Gorilla Coffee, because they probably can't sit still long enough to let the babe suckle. That was honestly the strongest cup of coffee I have ever had in my life. Wow. I feel like I have lighter fuel in my veins and someone just lit a match.

Holy holy holy moly.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Far from Home

Today was the first day I worked outside of home -- in the Tea Lounge, in fact, in Brooklyn. Typical Brooklyn, I was surrounded by other freelance writers and nursing mothers. Ah, I sing of the body lactation. I did not, however, see anyone with both a laptop and a baby. Note that, Cait. Note that now.

Granted, He may well be the son of God, but whatever happened to your novel, Mary?

There in between the typing and teats, I finally hunkered down and finished my manuscript draft for the MFA class. Four hours and 25 pages later, that puppy's done. Whew.

Then I flew off to Chelsea, the F train my wings, to meet a former coworker. Interesting night - the conversation somehow landed on the recent Yale murder.

"Do what you love today," I found myself saying, "because no one can promise you tomorrow."



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Books & the Binding

Day three.

Make me some money, books. Let's go.

The little t-shirt business is suddenly everywhere. The New Yorker has mentioned it. Entertainment Weekly's picked it up. People are tweeting.

Makes you wonder if there's more real money to be made in fiction than anywhere else. But I suppose that's not all that different than the convoluted narratives and manipulated frames of reference that allowed the sub-prime mortgage scandal to make (then break) more than a few millionaires.

I am staring at my novel. Figuratively. The barrel of a gun. Histrionically & figuratively.

Today, I will write something.

Something not this.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

So What Did You Do Today?

18 1/2 hours and counting. Not that that is even so impressive, compared to the twelve-hour days spent in a cubicle not all that long ago. Still, I am decently proud of today and all its many minutes - I was in three boroughs, after all. The following is an illustrated recap of my day:

Today I successfully presented a Social Media Strategy to a very important CEO.

Then, at a small Greek diner complete with Poseidon window etchings and ample feta cheese, I discussed a possible mini-merger with a PR agency's Founding President (assuming my small consulting business can be called its own company, which is both a bit of a stretch and a possible tax evasion charge).

Back at home and hungry again, I created a very delightful lactose-free icy soy milk treat. This is not a picture of my treat. My treat was vastly superior.

Making good on a previous promise and hyped up on sugary goodness, I then pitched The New American Dream, a Launch Party (with Free Beer) to UrbanDaddy, Thrillist & Metromix. The best part? All three really liked the idea. Delightful!

Preparing for my MFA class later this evening, I then read and reviewed three different short stories. All of the stories were about gay people. Also delightful!

Less visually interesting items for the day also include:
  • going to the gym
  • attending said MFA class with people who don't seem nearly as gay as their characters
  • riding the N train into oblivion and back
  • enjoying the human beings that spend their twilight hours laminating at Kinkos
  • talking to Mami about love lost and cured ham
  • and, of course, blogging

Ahh, yes; an economy 2.0 job well done!

As the HedgeHog Yawns

Heading to an early meeting with The NMP. Wow. I used to do this every day? Really? And not even bitch or blog about it? It's not even light out.

Ahh, little Hedgie, can you imagine?: Some people see this ungodly hour nearly every day of their lives. And they haven't even been up the whole night before dancing on a tabletop. Insanity, little Hedgie. Sheer insanity.

Here is my HedgeHog yawn in protest - and, I suppose, in celebration - of the singular sunrise I might see this morning.

And we're off...

Monday, September 14, 2009

In Lieu of the Goji

It's been a year and a half since I last updated this blog - and so please excuse me for deleting all the earlier posts. Things change. The career in party-girl publicity segued into a stint as Media Strategies Senior Account Executive which has now evolved into a part-time consultant gig with non-profits and a large increase in statements like, "I am a novelist."

The Goji Berry (the original focus of this blog, among other topics) no longer seems relevant to my new, economy 2.0 lifestyle. Apologies to all disappointed parties.

Still, with all that said, instead of discussing the whole mad jaunt of change any further, I think I will use this space to write what's going on today, and, as idealistically and impossibly as any blogger would hope, every day hereafter. Right.

Today, in general, I am a freelance social media strategist, working primarily (and with monetary benefits) for an amazing non-profit, and secondarily (and without monetary benefits) for a slew of creative friends thrown into new professions due to economic shitstorms and the employers who react to them. Alas, my friends, wasn't health care great? But now we have freedom - so, so much freedom - and the challenge to not fall down and crack our heads in the wide open spaces of our new, exciting lives.

Yes. This is how excitement feels some days.

Today, in specific, I have to stop procrastinating and get to (this new economy's conceit of) work. I need to blog for The Non-Profit Man (NPM), reach out for writing opportunities, tap into that former PR career to invite some good press to a party, check in on invoices, work on the novel, and then, hopefully, have a real-life conversation with someone outside of my computer.

Let the day begin.