Category Archives: work

The 90s Nostalgia Writer Position at Bustle Mag

 

Hey Mariah! Go back like babies and pacifiers.

There’s a part-time position open in the Lifestyle vertical at Bustle. One of the questions on the application is “Give us sample pitches” that pertain to this vertical. I thought it would be fun to share my possible articles for Bustle.

Headline: How Mariah Carey saved 90s music.
Vision of Love was released in 1990 and since then, the ubiquitous diva has proved she’s not going away. Like her or not, she outlasted the one-hit wonders and released the greatest holiday album of all time. And you know you’ve tried to hit those high notes.

Headline: The Teacher Took It: An Index of Confiscated Artifacts from the 90s Classroom
Don’t get caught adjusting your snap bracelet over and over. Don’t get caught feeding your Tamagotchi. And definitely don’t get caught passing a note.

Headline: The Best Literature of the 90s (No, this list doesn’t include Oh, the Places You’ll Go)
You think you know 90s literature because you read Harry Potter when it first came out? You don’t. Expand your mind and have snobby books to namedrop in conversations with these titles: The Things They Carried, Infinite Jest, Underworld, and The Love of a Good Woman.

Headline: My Pager: An Essay about Life before the Tyranny of Smart Phones

(I forgot to write the first few lines for this one. I blame my kids. Insert anxious emoji here.)

Headline: Sh*t We Were Scared of in the 90s (and the sh*t we should’ve been concerned about):
Y2K? Clinton’s taxes causing a massive market crash and recession? No.
Climate Change? Apparently scientists in the 90s didn’t think it was an issue.

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Filed under entertainment, freelance writing, work

Mommy & Novelist…Or Maybe the Other Way Around

Jackson prepares for the Mud Run.

Alternate title: “How To Write and Market Your Novel, Be a Stay-at-Home Mom, and Deal with the Pull of Guilt from Both Your Literary Baby and Your Real Baby.”

I started writing North Shore South Shore in 2007 when my husband was relocated to Los Angeles. I was working as an editor for AOL’s TV Squad. I joined a writer’s group with my husband just to fill some time. I took the relocation hard and didn’t have many friends in L.A. or much to do for that matter. But I drafted the first iteration of my novel.

We moved home just a year later, I started working as a high school English teacher, and North Shore South Shore collected figurative dust filed away on a USB drive. Plus I started back pursuing my second Masters. For a solid year, the novel was just a large file, forgotten and finally moved to make room for lesson plans and graduate work. I looked at it a few times during school breaks. I had to revise much of it and add a fourth narrator. But I couldn’t even get to writing because I would have to read the whole thing before I could put fingers to laptop.

In 2010, I had Jackson and finishing North Shore South Shore looked unlikely. But in the summer of 2010 (five-month-old in tow) I buckled down during naps and after bedtime. North Shore South Shore was “coming along.” I even started posting about it on my facebook page (because if you don’t mention it on facebook, it’s not real). By the following summer, I had something of a manuscript and an active, charming 15-month-old. I had also finished my second Masters. My husband’s voice was now a familiar refrain: You need to finish it. How many people say they are going to write a novel and never write one? You have over 100,000 words. You never know–it might get published.

Jackson takes the road not taken.

And I have him to thank for the completion of North Shore South Shore. My refrain was something like this: I don’t have the time. I have the baby to care for. I have a part-time teaching gig still. It’ll never get looked at anyway. But, despite my best efforts to convince myself NOT to finish the novel, I finished it. I created this blog to document the process. The book became an old friend that I would catch up with whenever I had the chance. I looked forward to times when I could work on it the same way I looked forward to taking Jackson to the zoo or the playground.

While writing the book was a focused, intense process, marketing my book to both buyers and literary agents is a multi-headed monster, like the mythical one that Hercules kills in his labors. But Hercules killed his wife and kids (ain’t no Disney ending there) and therefore is suspect as a role model for this process. Talk about missplaced rage.

Still, I’m left with the task of fitting it all in (and without mythical role models). Oh, and I should mention we’re potty training right now. My days alternate between the guerilla marketing of North Shore South Shore and taking care of Jackson. I confess, sometimes I just want to focus on caring for and playing with him. When I’m working on novel stuff, Jackson beckons “I play you, Mommy” and grabs my hand. (Cue pang of guilt.) I feel like I’m missing something. He’ll never be this age again. “It goes so fast so enjoy it,” said the lady in the diner peering over her walker with tennis balls on the bottom and I get this eerie feeling that my octogenerian self is warning me. (It should be noted that before said lady walkered over to our table, I was trying to make Jackson sit in his high chair and he was calling “Help! Help!” to other diner patrons.)

But if I’ve spent the whole morning with Jackson, my literary baby beckons.

So my days include (but are not limited to) potty training, updates to the novel’s facebook page, emailing queries to agents, cutting up fruit for snacks, play dates, formatting the book for release to eReaders, scouring Pinterest to fill out North Shore South Shore‘s Pinterest page, tweeting, emailing, diaper changing, playing with blocks or trains or play-doh, and the occasional art project.

And despite every expectation that I should not be able to accomplish both, things are getting done. I’ve had several requests for full manuscripts from agents. My kickstarter project started two days ago and is already 31% funded. My facebook page has over 300 fans. And the book is finished and will be released in October.

And my laundry is done. And my apartment is (somewhat) tidy. Because mommies can do anything. After all, we gave birth. That s*** was ridiculously hard.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll allow for some advice (not of the sage variety but advice nonetheless):

1. It’s okay to want to work on your work, especially if you’re creative like me. Just as my child is a living, breathing being in need of my love, North Shore South Shore is an ever-expanding and contracting text that has taken on a life of its own via twitter, facebook, and kickstarter. Taking care of both babies feeds my soul in different ways. I’ve learned I’m learning to be at peace with working on the project.

Jackson paints a blob.

2. Do something meaningful with your child (either once or multiple times a day depending on the age). I find that Jackson’s attention span for me is only about 20-30 minutes. After that, his interaction level decreases and he moves on to something else. So I try to do a few activities in a day with him. We paint, craft, build block towers, pretend play with Go Diego Go toys, build Thomas Tracks, and read books. Some days I spend a few hours in the morning with him at the Botanical Gardens or the Bronx Zoo and then I spend more of my afternoon marketing North Shore South Shore or doing quick stints of proofreading.

3. Get in some work when your child is napping or eating. The naptime work session is obvious. But I get in some writing after I set Jackson up with breakfast or lunch. I find it takes toddlers at least a half hour to eat anything. He is a gourmet who savors each cheerio, each bite of penne, each strawberry half. By contrast, I eat lunch standing at my kitchen counter, putting away dishes with one hand and stuffing a sandwich in my mouth with the other. Because of my obsessive need to multi-task and damaged relationship with food, I can get plenty done during his lunchtime.

4. If you feel like there’s something you want to do, DO IT. Write the book. Start the business. (I have a friend who makes beautiful invitations from home and another who crafts adorable bows for little girls.) Finish the degree. (I have two friends working on their dissertations right now.)  Just do it. I certainly believe you can.

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Filed under family, motherhood, North Shore / South Shore, work

Summer Reading List

At Preston, we require students to read the following: two required books, one from the nonfiction list and one from the fiction. I’m not sharing any of those lists here because I don’t feel like searching my computer to find them. But I did want to share what books I read this summer.

Two Required Books: Sister of My Heart by Divakaruni  & The Kite Runner by Hosseini (These are the required books my seniors needed to get through.)

One from the Fiction pile: The Help by Stockett (This is easily my favorite book in a long time.)

One from the Non-Fiction pile: Decoded by Jay-Z (I confess I started reading this to break up my other non-fiction pic–What to Expect: The Toddler Years. And I started it because C.K. wasn’t finished with Clash of Kings, the sequel to Game of Thrones. But Decoded is smart, engaging, and has moments of real depth. Jay-Z’s talents in writing extend far beyond his incredible songwriting capabilities. And his perceptiveness is evident on every page. It comes with endnotes for when Jay-Z “close reads” his own songs–an aspect of the book that borders on academic. Decoded is definitely the “Seabiscuit” of my summer reading so far.)

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Century 21, New York’s Best Kept Secret

Century 21
Okay, so it says that on the sign but Century 21, as you can tell by the packed lot, is no secret to New Yorkers. There’s one in the city, one in Brooklyn, and one on Long Island. Last Friday, my mom and I visited the Long Island store for some “back-to-school” clothes. Century 21 carries all kinds of trendy brands and designer names at half price. Of course, you have to check the sizes and check for any weird sewing errors. The store gets surplus and some awkward stuff. But as long as you’re willing to sift through racks of clothing, you could find some really good buys. In fact, last year I found a Nicole Miller gown for a friend’s wedding here. I paid $40 for it. It’s normal retail was about $400. My friend Kim was shopping with me and agreed that I was losing money if I didn’t buy it. Like my awesome shopping logic?

On Friday, I bought C.K. four polo tops (Izod, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger included in that). I also needed some tops for work at Preston this year. Because schools don’t have air conditioning and September can be warm in New York, I needed a few professional but light, airy tops to wear to work. I got a few things. A nice Da-Nang cotton top with peasant sleeves among them.

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Filed under C.K., shopping, work

Schoolhouse Rock rocks

This is my favorite Schoolhouse Rock video. The Verb one is a close second.

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The Wiz soundtrack

I just bought The Wiz soundtrack today. I found out this week that one of my new jobs at Preston will be to direct the musical. I’m so excited about this — I can’t even begin to explain it. Previously, I only had “Ease on Down the Road” in my iTunes library. But today, I went ahead and finished the album. I’ve been listening to it all day. Surprisingly enough, the birdies were quite calm listening to the songs from the “super soul musical.” Sonja and Misha usually freak when we play music. But some songs have the magic touch as it were.

An interesting anecdote–this past year has been a rough ride for CK and I. When I was feeling particularly down, I would play certain songs in my car as I drove to an event for TV Squad or todance class. I know it’s cheesy but for some reason, Broadway songs always made me feel better. Perhaps it’s because each song is part of a narrative and I could escape if just for a moment into that story. I played “Ease on Down the Road” a lot this year. Those of you who know the lyrics can understand why. Weird how things work out sometimes.

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Filed under dancing, work