The End of Writing Month

As many of you know, I tried to do the November novel writing challenge.  How did I do?  Well, a lot goes on if you view the glass half empty or half full (or kamikaze fatalist that Cynthia talks about- where not only is the glass empty, but it shatters and you cut your hand…..)

I wrote 35,000 words.  I was 15,000 short of my goal.  Am I happy or am I upset?  Initially, I was a little annoyed when I realized there was no way I was going to hit my writing goal.  But then my friend SF said, it’s really not the amount of words, it’s about the writing.”  And he was right.  A wise man.  I have had many wise, male friends.  I’ve never married any of them, but I know them…..

I’m choosing happy with what I did accomplish.

  1. I have  35m more words than I started out with
  2. 109 pages
  3. 109 pages that I can work with (which has never been the case before)
  4. characters developing nicely
  5. characters have believability
  6. I’m about to hit the climax, and I have the major plot points mapped out to get to the conclusion
  7. I know where some of the holes and gaps are, and have ideas on how to fix them

My biggest issue:  Is the story too simplistic.  Nothing blows up.  No one gets murdered.  It’s just a slightly humorous story about trying to find love as you get older.  But do people want to read something like that?

I’ve learned other things about me and writing:

  1. I have to become more materialistic.  When I’m trying to describe settings, I am having difficulty with specifics.  I wrote a scene where you need to sit on the couch.  How do I describe the couch?  I’m not a decorator type, so I have no idea what different fabrics are called.  I can’t have every character have a sofa that is ultra suede, canvas or velvet.  I need a primer on different furniture styles and materials.  I know when I do the rewrite, I’m going to need a home décor book.
  2. I now actively watch people.  Yes, this is probably as creepy as it sounds.  I look at hair color, face hair, tattoos, hair cuts, how people sit, how they stand- etc.  I never realized how much detail people want/need.  I never realized how much you can show in a story just by describing them.  Like it or not- we all make assumptions based on appearances (but I realize- I think I make less assumptions)  Side note- I don’t know if people like being stared at on the subway, especially if you’re taking notes.
  3. I need a description cheat sheet.  I forgot what I named a characters child.  I forgot how I described someone’s living room.  these little details must be consistent throughout the book, but you have to also not overuse description.
  4. I hate typing quotation marks.  I think they’re stupid.  But alas, I know we need them.

And there you have it- the conclusion of writing month.  Hope everyone worked towards their personal goals.  Keep writing!

My Secret…..

Sssh….I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I really think I was meant to be British.  My family tells me this all the time.  I love tea.  I love a dry sense of humor.  I  swoon when I hear the accents (my New Yorkese is just not pleasing to the ear).  Burberry- oh don’t get me started on the plaid.  I would kill for sticky toffee pudding.  I truly believe I was born in the wrong place.

Looks wise, when you mix my Mediterranean Mother with my Slavic Father, you end up with a fair skinned. greenish hazel eyed, brunette.  People have never thought I was Polish or Italian, the dominant genetic groups- they’ve always thought I was English or Irish.  There was a point when I only dated blue eyed, blonde guys with Irish ancestry.  You could say that’s my type (my daughters history teacher fits this description- even though he’s about 12, I still felt the need to check my appearance before I walked into parent teacher conferences)

But my intense love of all things British sort of manifests itself in my love of three things:  Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Agatha Christie.  There is nothing I like more than absorbing myself in these two works.  So this month has been wonderful.

Why?  Because a few weeks ago, a Downton Abbey exhibit opened in NYC.  I was treated to seeing the actual kitchen, servants dining hall, Mr.  Carsons office, the Dowagers desk, the main dining table and Lady Mary’s bedroom.  As I told my friends, I could have moved into that room.  And the costumes!!!  Oh, those dresses!

For an Anglophile, a drawing room drama is perfection.  Back stabbing, wheeling and dealing and intrigue are so much better when done with an accent and a country estate.  There is a sense of class and elegance to the shows aired on PBS that just draws me in. (OK- I know- they’re PBS- they’re supposed to be like that) I don’t necessarily want to be part of that world (well- I have had a few dreams where I am Lady Mary), but it sure is a fun ride.  No American drama has captivated me as Downton did.  The dialogue was just line after line of clever and concise writing.  The actors- really- do I need to explain how good each and every cast member was?  I still haven’t gotten over Matthew and Cybil…..the attention to detail- there was not a thing on the set that wasn’t perfect and accurate to the time.

But my love of all things Brit also extends to literature.  Pride and Prejudice.  Seriously- could there be a better book?  Jane Austen had the ability to describe the universal nature of people is such an insightful and timeless way.  And tonight, I get to see an off Broadway production of that amazing book!  I get to live in a world of Elizabeth Bennett for just a few hours tonight!  To see such a strong female character, and to know how long ago the book was written….to know that Austen had the courage to write about it!

Of course, “Murder on the Orient Express” also came out this month.  Agatha Christie- the queen of the detective story.  Adapted by Kenneth Branagh.  Come on…..  Clever, timeless, witty, erudite…..the whole thing is perfect.  (ok- the movie is not perfect- but still- a murder on a train….Hercule… still works)

So here is my nod to all things British.  Here is to my wishing I was British.  I’m going to finish my tea, take the lift down and exit my flat to walk my Yorkshire terrier……perhaps I’ll even wear my trench…..


The Battle of the Relationships

Sometimes my Husband drives me crazy.  There- I said it.

I think this is the case in many long term, monogamous relationships.  Usually things are great, but there are those moments.  And it’s those moments, the moments when our partners drive us crazy, that determine if a relationship will survive.

Husband and I see very differently on a particular subject.  This has been the case for our entire history together.  He thinks he is right.  I think I am.  Now, the good thing is, the catalyst for this issue doesn’t show up very often- so we don’t often experience the strife related to it.  But, the underlying root is always there.  The seed of discontent is buried deep inside.  It frustrates me that he doesn’t see and appreciate my side, doesn’t back me up, so to speak.  I know he is never going to change his stance, I know he doesn’t have the courage to.  I accept that he will never change. Until he expects me to change.  See, that’s the problem- in my mind, what’s fair is fair.  I’m not changing, he’s not changing- we just have to grit our teeth and bare it.  He doesn’t see it that way- he wants me to change.  Our fights aren’t about the issue directly- they’re about his refusal to accept who I am.

That’s where relationships falter- when one partner can’t accept the true nature of the other.  When one partner wants the other to “change”.  This is a wonderful theory- it’s just not practical or realistic.  People don’t change cause others wish it so- people change when the individual wants to.

So what do two people do?  How do they handle it?

Well, Husband and I argued quite a bit.  We had a “discussion” about the underlying issues.  When two people fight, each person goes in thinking they are 100% right.  When another person starts to poke holes in the theory, well, that’s when things have the ability to get ugly.  That’s another test of a relationship- how do the people involved fight.

My Husband likes to say- “Everyone would agree with me on this.”  First off- don’t ever use that as an argument, because unless you took a poll of everyone, this is just not valid.  There is no way to determine what “everyone” thinks. Secondly, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks- everyone else is not in the relationship.  The only opinion that matters is of the two people involved.  Also, sometimes you’re wrong- sometimes others will not agree with you because your argument is just not “right”.

You can’t bring up the past.  I’m repeating that.  You can’t bring up past fights or past actions.  When you’re fighting, keep it to the situation.  If you have resentments about past actions, then you need to discuss that separately.  If a past issue is resurfacing, then you have to ask yourself if you are expecting someone to change their behavior.  Because as stated, no one changes because you want them to.  If someone did “M” three months ago, should you be getting mad if they did “M” today?  You can’t make someone change, but you can change your behavior.

Don’t put the blame on something or someone.  This is a cop out.  The chance of an outside factor being to blame is probably slim.  What’s that line, “fault is not in our stars but in ourselves”?  Take responsibility for your actions, and how your actions affect others.  Own your mistakes and miscalculations.  Accept what you did wrong and learn from it.  Try not to blame your partner.  I know this is hard- but once you start blaming people….well…how well can you recover from that?

So- to try to summarize this wandering post:

Fight fair.

Be realistic about the issue you’re fighting about.

Remember the other persons point of view.

Accept your partner as they are.

If you want change, you must be the one to change- don’t expect change of your partner, unless they are 100% on board with changing.

Listen to what your spouse is saying- they just might have a valid point/argument.





I took Friday off from life.

Well, not entirely.  I fed the pets.  But for about 10 hours, I sat and did nothing.  It was perfect. Since  I’ve been wound a little more tightly than usual of late, I realized that I needed to chill out for a bit.  The revelation came to me when I wanted to throw my Husband out of the window.  He’s been on my nerves a little, but that’s a whole other blog….come back tomorrow if you want to see that post.

Friday  was the perfect day to step back from life.  Daughter had plans to go black Friday shopping with her friends, and was leaving the house at 9am.  Husband was leaving the house at 1 to go to a bar and watch college football (?- I think it was college- honestly I didn’t care- I knew it would occupy his time and get him out of the house-)

And what did I do in that time?

I made a lot of tea- English Breakfast.

I read at least one issue of Real Simple.

I read at least one issue of Good Housekeeping.

I played Sudoku.

I watched a Garage Sale mystery I had on DVR.

I watched a mystery on Hallmark with Kellie Martin (also taped even though I do not remember the name of the series.  The name doesn’t matter- someone dies, a  plucky heroine solves the crime.  I don’t need anything more)

I received my stitch fix box and tried on everything (OK- this was a winner again- I think the stylist reads my mind- long comfy cardigan, gorgeous booties, the best leggings ever, a shimmery pale pink shirt (which is not my style on the shimmery, but fits well and is just festive enough for the holiday season) and a black faux suede dress.  on a side note- I already wore three of the new items over the weekend.  Seriously love the concept.

I put moisturizer on my feet, wrapped them in thick socks and used my foot massager.

I added full calorie preserves to my greek yogurt.

I took a nap.

I didn’t cross anything off the to do list.  Not a thing.  I felt like a rebel.  I had no cause.  I just needed to not be productive for a little while.

And it worked.  It only took a few hours, but I felt so much better.  When my daughter got home, I actually helped her clean her closet.  I cleaned my closet.  I got rid of clothing that I did bot love- I was able to have a Marie Kondo moment. (Seriously- did you really think I could go a whole entire day without thinking about organizing something?)  But it didn’t feel like a chore- it felt like something I needed to do to make my life run more smoothly.

So what am I saying?

I’m saying that sometimes we need a vacation from our life.  Sometimes we need to shut off the power switch and reboot.  A few months ago, my amazing friend Jay wrote about the word automaton, about how he sometimes wonders if he is one.  Well, there’s a reason why Jay and I bonded- I feel like that sometimes too.  And there is no better way to fix an operating system than by shutting it down, letting the motors cool off, and then turning it back on again.


People mock the concept by now.  There is a standard IT joke about it.  But, you can’t knock what works.

So now I’m back, and ready to dive right into the holiday season, which officially started when Santa closed out the Thanksgiving Day parade.  Our decorations will go up this coming weekend.  Gifts have begun to be purchased. More words will be added to the novel (said without quotes this time- yay me).  And hopefully I’ll be a little bit calmer….well, calmer for me anyway…..



I pride myself on being organized.  I pride myself on being able to jigsaw all the pieces of my life together to form a pretty cohesive picture.  But sometimes, I try to do a little too much.  Case in point- my life from September to January 2.

I take on too many projects, activities and social obligations. The problem is this city- every fall there are museum exhibits and all sorts of cultural things opening and waiting to be explored.  This is the “season”.  I also love fall weather- I love apple picking and corn mazes and crunchy leaves.  I love when the air gets just a little bit cool.  Fall crushes my carefully organized life.

Now, I sit with my planner.  I jot down times to do everything that needs to be done.  I keep a great to do list, where I include everything that needs to be accomplished (yes Cynthia- I too put down feed pets…..) and I happily cross things off when completed.  I keep up with my organization plan.  But….

Yes….there’s a but….

I am so tightly scheduled that I sometimes don’t leave room for error.  Big issue.  I forget that sometimes, though I might a have a plan, the rest of the universe doesn’t realize that I have a plan.  Like, when the subway gets stuck.  Or my printer is not syncing with my computer.  Wifi doesn’t work.  Something we had paid to ship express doesn’t get shipped express.  The dog throws up on the comforter.  All the washing machines are filled.

You get the idea.  Life gets in the way of living.

And that is what happened to me this month.  I put down too many things in my schedule, and things started to fall through the cracks.  I had to rearrange the jigsaw pieces, because there was literally not enough time in the day to accomplish what I wanted to.  I had to switch to “need to”.

Now for a type A, certified nutcase like me, it was not easy to admit that I can’t do it all.  I was very down on myself.  When you have a lot to do, you don’t have the luxury of time in which to have a pity party.  You have to regroup, and you have to do it quickly.  I played my teeny tiny violin and I them started moving the pieces around.  I looked carefully at what needed to be pushed aside for the time being.  I needed to be a realist.

Now, if you read my homework the other day, you know that my Mother was not real organized.  So if you want to ask why I’m so nutty about organization, it’s cause I am trying to not repeat the mistakes that my Mother made- I feel we were at a disadvantage because my Mother would forget things and let things fall through the cracks.  She was a great shopper, and smoker, but everything else was a little lax.  I made a vow to not be like that.

I am trying to be a little more realistic.  I am trying to be a little calmer. This morning has been a test of my patience.  I had computer/wifi issues that took every ounce of my brainpower to fix (I’m amazed that I got it to work actually).  My Husband is off work and is being a royal pain in the ass, humming loudly and asking me every five minutes to help him with something.  My marriage might not last till Sunday….. My daughter was trying to get out of the house to do black Friday shopping….They’re working of the outside of out building with very loud, very annoying drills….

So I’m not real calm now…..

But I’m going to take a deep breath.  I’m going to ignore the husband.  I’m going to finish this post.  And I’m really going to try to relax.

Keep breathing……


Happy Thanksgiving to my friends that partake, and Happy Thursday to my friends that don’t!!

I am thankful for many things, but this week, this is what springs to mind:

  1. My fluffy, pink bathrobe
  2. my fleece slippers with the cushiony bottoms
  3. spellcheck
  4. google docs and my printer being in sync
  5. books with strong female heroines
  6. 24 hour staples print center
  7. not getting sick from vertigo on the ridiculously long escalator ride at the new Q train stop at 72nd and 2nd
  8. the Macy’s balloon inflation
  9. mom/daughter tradition of seeing the balloons inflated
  10. my daughter looking forward and enjoying the 11th year of going to see the balloons inflated
  11. gummy antacids( too many brussel sprouts)
  12. Downton Abbey exhibit stopping in NYC

And of course, all the other normal things that we are all grateful for!!

Happy Day!!!

Come on, get Happy…….

In my life I have had a few celebrity crushes

  1. Bobby Sherman- singer
  2. Davey Jones- Singer – The Monkees
  3. Lee Mazzilli – New York Met Baseball player
  4. David Cassidy

David Cassidy dies last night.  This pretty much broke my heart.  David Cassidy was the idol that made me buy Tiger Beat Magazine.  I had his poster on the wall.  I owned every Partridge Family and David Cassidy record.  I lived for the TV show.  He became a part of my reality.  I still have “I Think I Love You” on my ipod.  For those of you that don’t know him, he was the largest pop idol of his generation, and this was without internet or 8000 tv channels.  He was the man.

Now I know he had his battles.  They were well documented and difficult.  I think to be young and have all that fame and fortune in your immediate path is extremely difficult.  His home life was a bit precarious too.  His life was one of extremes, the highest of highs, the lowest of lows.

But none of this matters.

David Cassidy represents a part of my youth.  He represents hopes and dreams of a young girl living in suburban Long Island.  Sitting in my blue and green bedroom, hairbrush microphone in my hand. belting out “Come on Get Happy”.  When the world seemed unfathomable, I had David and his songs and his rockin 70’s clothes- for 3 minutes and 45 seconds the world made sense.  For the length of an episode, I was a part of something larger than myself- before the age of recordable TV, we sat ourselves down and watched the episodes as they aired.  We talked about it the next day.  For a shy girl as I was, this was the moment, the moment when I was just a little bit cool, and I could discuss the latest doings of Keith and Lori Partridge.  I could sit at the lunch table and actually be a part of the conversation instead of a part of the décor.  These were the moments when I was happiest, when I felt like I belonged, even if it was just for a little while.

Now, as I get older, more recognizable faces will pass.  The past few years have taken a brutal toll on my memories.  But I can only think of the little moments that these celebrities afforded me, these little beacons of happiness.  I know celebrity crushes are silly, but I think they are also important.  They define moments in our lives, they remind us of who we were.  They remind us of how far we’ve come.

I was fortunate enough to have seen David Cassidy in person once.  He and his brother Sean were performing on Broadway about 20 years ago.  I think it was Blood Brothers.  Not only did I see the show, on a different night I had been at a Manhattan restaurant in the theater district.  Sean and David came into the place.  It was surreal.  No, I didn’t ask for his autograph, I figured he had a right to dine in peace, but oh, seeing him walk by….

So rest in peace David Cassidy.  Thanks for the memories.



Fiction Homework

I’m still crazy…well, more so than usual. So today I present the homework from my writing class. The lesson was about pace, the prompt being to show events slowly, then speed up, or vice versa. Here’s what I came up with!

On Fire

It’s funny when I need to tell a story about my Mother. You see, she has a very different vision of herself than others do. And I guess that’s true of most people, when they look in the mirror, they see what they want to see, which is not necessarily true. For example, my Mother thinks she is the most organized, logical person in the world. She thinks she’s good in a crisis, the person who remains calm and cool and fixes things. But calm and cool doesn’t always translate to fixing things.

I remember one night when I was about 10 and my sister was 3. We were in pajamas, but there was really no bedtime at our house. My Mother thought nothing of staying up late and rising later. She had this perception that that was cool. My perception was that I never had breakfast and was often late to school. My Mom, she was calm that way- lateness and breakfast didn’t really exist for her in a normal way.

Neither did buying groceries in a timely manner. Or realizing that a house with 2 children needed milk. She would sit at the table, smoking Marlboro after Marlboro, watching soap operas or trashy dramas on the 12 inch black and white in the corner of our avocado green kitchen. It was the 70’s after all, your kitchen was either avocado or harvest gold. One night my sister toddled into the smoky kitchen and asked for milk. I wasn’t in the room, but I imagine my Mother said something like, “Jesus Christ. How can we be out of milk. Get your sister.”

My sister and I jumped into the backseat of our dark green plymouth Duster, quite possibly the ugliest car ever made. At 10 I wasn’t allowed in the front seat- too dangerous, but seatbelts weren’t required in the back. I know, she had her own special views about safety. We drove off to Dairy Barn. Dairy Barn was a place we knew well- they were open till 11, and sold all the basics that my family often ran out of. The bonus was, it was a drive thru. You didn’t have to get out of your car and milk, butter and eggs would appear at the roll down window.

Now Dairy Barn was only about 2 miles from our house, but with my Mother behind the wheel, she drove a calm 15 mph. No need to rush, we would get there. Which we did, making sure we stopped at every stop light. No need to drive through the yellow, cause yellow means stop. 15 traffic lights. 15 stops. Funny the things you remember.

So we left the bright red Dairy Barn with the gallon of skim milk (whole milk- never- we might get fat) and a package of English Muffins which would never make it to the toaster because my Mother was never up for breakfast, and I wasn’t allowed to use the toaster. And as we slowed down for the first of the 15 traffic lights, I smelled smoke. I saw smoke. Now, being the child of a chain smoker, you got used to the nicotine tinge that everything in the house had, the little bits of tobacco littering everything in the house, constantly seeing everything through a hazy filter. But this was different. There was a real burning smell, there was actual smoke in the car. The car was on fire.

“Mom. The cars on fire.”

“No it’s not.”

“Mom. seriously, the back seat is filling with smoke. I see smoke out of the trunk. Pull over. I reached over my sister to open the window.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the trunk. Nothing is in there.”

“Please pull over. I’m telling you something is wrong.”

She stopped at light 2, and she turned around, looking into the back seat.”

“Well, it does look smoky.”

WHen the light changed she pulled over to the curb. I went over my sister to release the catch that brought up the seat, we had a two door car, and I pulled my sister out to the street.

“Fluffy” she screamed. Her little white stuffed dog with the black ears and missing eyes was still in the back seat. I reached in and grabbed Fluffy. My Mother was still in the front, she hadn’t shut off the car yet, even though there was black smoke billowing out the trunk.

“I don’t have anything in there” she kept saying as I grabbed my sister and Fluffy and ran up to a house and started ringing the doorbell. Repeatedly. Ring. Ring. Ring. Until a woman opened the door to the sight of my sister and I in our pajamas on a cold December night, no coats.

“Please.” I screamed. “Call the fire department” my mothers car is on fire.”

“Well you can’t come in” the woman said looking behind us, fearing that this was some sort of bizarre home invasion.

“Fine” i said, but please call the fire department. Look. There’s my Mothers car. My Mother stood staring at the trunk, holding the keys. Calm under pressure.

The husband came to the door and said to his wife “Go call the fire. Now.” she raced to the phone as he raced out to the car taking off his shirt to cover his hand. My sister and I stood on the random stoop, watching the man take the keys from my mother, open the trunk and try to quell the flames of whatever was burning inside. The sound of fire engines began whaling in the background as my Mother stood transfixed, still in shock and the man was pulling out papers and stomping on them. THe fireman came and quickly used an extinguisher to dampen the now tampered fire. The women finally realizing my sister and I were shivering led us into the hallway. My sister cuddled Fluffy and leaned into me.

The man came in and told me what had happened. My mother had put boxes of flyers in the trunk, she was working on some sort of school board campaign and had knocked out the tail light. The tail light ignited the papers. There didn’t appear to be any damage to the car itself, but she had to get the tail light fixed. Did he need to call my Father he asked. I told him my Father was probably still on his way home from work, but I thanked him for helping out. I thinked the woman too, but a little less enthusiastically.

Now, if my mother is telling you this story, well, she would explain to you how brave she was, how she acted quickly and rationally, how she sensed something was wrong and pulled us out of the car as she heroically battled the blaze unassisted. Ask my little sister, and her version is probably a bit more like mine.

OMG- So Stupid

I’m still in the weeds here in NYC- full calendar today, book to be read, words to be written, house to keep going.  But I made a commitment to myself, that if I had internet, I would post 5 days a week.  So here’s a quick story.

On Saturday, I went to the movies with Husband and Daughter.  We went to buy movie snacks, popcorn, iced tea and cookie dough bites.  Our local theater has the fountain drinks that you serve yourself, so Husband took stuff and went into theater, I took stuff and I went to get our drink.  I grabbed napkins and straws, filled up cup, grabbed popcorn and went into theater.   As I was walking towards them, I noticed they were eating popcorn.  And I was holding popcorn.

I had stolen someone’s popcorn.  Unintentionally, but still.  I went to my family, who were laughing at me.  I handed them the drink.  I walked towards the lobby both mortified and laughing.  How stupid am I ?

I went to the woman behind the concession stand.  I explained that I stole someone’s popcorn and handed her the bucket.  She was trying not to laugh in my face, which was hard, because I was trying not to laugh as I said, “Well, someone is going to say that they lost their popcorn, so here it is…..”

And that’s my story for the day!

keep writing!!

Reading reading reading

Hi All,

I have bookclub on Tuesday and I have yet to read my book.  So, that means that I must power through My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, which I have only read the first chapter of.  This also means that I will not be reading any blogs till probably Monday night.  Love you all, keep writing.  Will catch up with everything next week!!!