Monday, December 20, 2010

Reading Recap

I read like my boys eat--I gulp down so much, so fast, it's impossible to keep track of how much I've consumed. I have no idea how many books I read during 2010. A safe guesstimate would be fifty-two (one a week). Some I liked, some I didn't, but some absolutely stunned me. Here are the titles from that list:

My Best of 2010:


1. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson
2. DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth (OK, this doesn't come out until May `11, but this one...omg, this one...It will be on your list next year.)
3. THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger
4. GIRL, STOLEN by April Henry
5. THE CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare
6. THE BODY FINDER by Kimberly Derting
7. FORGET YOU by Jennifer Echols
8. THE DEMON'S COVENANT by Sarah Rees Brennan
9. NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Siobhan Vivian
10. CRESCENDO by Becca Fitzpatrick


1. A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick
2. ONE DAY by David Nicholls



I'm currently reading two books I'm certain would have made the list if I'd finished before typing this: JUST KIDS by Patti Smith and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins.

Got any titles to add? Disagree with my choices? Tell me!

(I'll be busy finishing up a project over the next two weeks, so this is my last blog post of the year. Happy Holidays to everyone!! Thanks for reading!!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's a Wham Christmas!

Okay, I just have to link to this. I know it was featured on the Glee Christmas episode, but this time Rachel and Finn just don't do it for me.

And come on, don't tell me I'm the only person who sincerely thought she had a chance with George Michael...

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Christmas Story

In early December 1993, I was living in Astoria, a working class neighborhood at the end of the N subway line in Queens, NY. I took that train home every day from my job writing for a trade magazine, a position I loved, even though it paid next to nothing. Like many other people my age, I lived paycheck to paycheck.

The first Friday of that month I came home from work and wrote out all of my bills. On Saturday morning I confidently tossed them in the mailbox. On Sunday morning, I got around to balancing my checkbook. I'd been careless. Unless I wanted to bounce a check, I had $8 left in my account. I had less than five in my wallet. I'd done some Christmas shopping for my family, and, it embarrasses me to write, my credit card was at its pathetic limit.

At first I didn't panic. I caught a ride with a friend most mornings, and I had a subway pass for evenings. I could eat what was in my pantry. Two weeks wasn't all that long. I'd be fine until payday.

Then I took some inventory. The only edible items in my apartment were a half empty box of Cheerios, a bit of milk, some butter, and a stack of Saltine crackers. I didn't keep much in the house because I was used to eating out. What can I say? I was young.

I ate cereal for dinner that night, and for breakfast the following morning. I bought a slice of pizza for lunch. I had a few dollars left.

If I spent my remaining money on a slice the next day, I'd have nothing. I panicked. I ate Saltines smeared with butter for lunch on Tuesday. I had the same for dinner. I went to bed with a growling stomach, my brain running too hard for sleep.

I could have called my parents. They would have wired some money immediately. But that would have been admitting failure. The worst kind. Do you know how many people said, "If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere" when I moved to NYC? Too many. They would know I didn't make it. That I didn't have the stuff. Starvation was preferable.

I knew I could hang out at my cousins' over the weekend, and they would feed me. That was something to look forward to. I remember that Thursday we held a staff meeting where bagels and cream cheese were served. I think I ate two and snuck one in my purse. On Friday I endured a long lunch with our ad exec, Charlie, because I knew he would pay. A loud, sexist holdover from those Mad Men years, Charlie believed in drinking his lunch and pinching the waitress's bottom. We went for Indian. I was so grateful I didn't care that the entire restaurant could hear him tell me dirty jokes.

For whatever reason, I couldn't go over to my cousins' on Saturday. I was crazy hungry. I had two dollars.

I went to a Chinese restaurant near my apartment, figuring my credit card check went through and I'd have some room on it for a meal. I ate. The bill came, and I murmured a prayer as I handed over my Visa. When the waitress returned with my card, I knew by her pinched look it had been declined. I promised to return the following Friday to pay my bill. She said that would be fine, as long as I left my driver's license as collateral.

Humiliated, I ran home, tearful and angry. I knew what I had to do. I unplugged my VCR, stuffed the cord in my purse, and hopped on the subway headed for the city. I got out at 42nd Street, found a pawn shop in Times Square (it wasn't the family fun Disneyland it is today), and walked out with 25 dollars.

I went back to the Chinese restaurant and paid my bill. It felt good to slide my license back into my wallet. I went to the grocery store and bought peanut butter, a loaf of bread, some cans of soup.

I made it. The following Friday I stopped at the pawn shop after work and bought back my VCR. I took myself out to dinner. I went to the movies. I fell into a deeply restful sleep.

But I haven't ever forgotten how badly my stomach hurt when there was nothing in it for far too long. I remember the panic, the desperation, the anger, the embarrassment. I remember how much time and energy I had to put into figuring out a way to eat.

I didn't have children then, so I can only imagine what this feels like when you are responsible for people other than yourself. I can barely stand to think about the amount of families going hungry during these horrible economic times.

I doubt many of us are wealthy, but if you have a little extra, please pick up some non perishables next time you're at the supermarket, and drop them off at your local food pantry. If you have no idea where your local facility is, google it. You'd be surprised. Even upscale neighborhoods have them. Or, if your search doesn't bring anything up, shoot me an email and I'll find one for you. Seriously.

Being hungry sucks, but being hungry during the holiday season is its own kind of hell, you know?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Freaky Friday

Something a little different this week: How not to shop at a major cosmetics retailer (rhymes with Bora-Bora):

1. Don't assume that because your pajamas kind of look like pants no one will notice you're wearing them. The women who work there are capable of noticing a stray brow hair. They will take note. And then they will follow you around asking "Are you sure I can't help you?" until you want to run out of the store. Which is probably their goal.

2. Don't try on the Nars lipstick even though the store is out of alcohol swabs or anything remotely usable for disinfecting makeup. You will spend the next three hours OCD-ing about the Herpes/HIV/Hepatitis/Smallpox/Typhoid you probably caught. And the color will probably suck anyway.

3. Don't, in a fit of nostalgia, spray yourself effusively with Chanel no. 5. It won't smell the same as it did when you were fifteen. Somehow, in the twenty-five years since then, it went from being sexy and sophisticated to smelling like an old lady's closet.

4. Don't allow the Benefit representative to "fill-in" your eyebrows. You will resemble the Russian chick in that Dodgeball movie.

5. You are too old for sparkly eye shadow. Sorry, but it's true.

Um, yeah, I should not be allowed out of the house...