Wednesday, June 30, 2010

That Sounds Good. I'll Have That.

My coworker Alex had this exchange with a customer the other day. As follows in his words:

"So the woman at table 1 just pointed to the menu and said, 'I'll have this, but hold the bacon.' I looked to where she was pointing and calmly explained, 'Well, that's the list of salad dressings, ma'am.' To which she replied, 'Oh. OK. Then I'll just have a coffee.'" 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Update: First Official Shout Out.

I was sitting across the street from the Booksmith last night waiting for the bus, after just having finished a 10-hour shift at work. The dark night and the lights from the store made for optimal people-watching, so I sat observing readers browse and exit with bags of books. Feeling slightly deflated about my own attempts to get published, I wondered if my book might ever hit the shelves of a bookstore. 

It's important to note that being incredibly tired and having to wait for public transportation is a great combo for feeling badly about yourself. If you want to throw a little pity party, work for 10 hours and then hang around waiting for a bus. If you want to throw a more extravagant pity party, spend a few years trying to get published, work a 10-hour day, and then wait for a bus outside of a bookstore watching people buy books that actually are in print. 
And maybe serve punch. 

Sitting there feeling like a jerk, I remembered I left something at the restaurant. Making my way back to work, I grabbed my stuff, noticing the lights of the 66 bus coming down the street. Not wanting to wait for the next one, I ran out of the restaurant, and darted across the street to the bus stop. Avoiding traffic, and looking quite stupid as I ran, I heard someone yell from a block down, "Hey!! OPEN-EYED SNEEZE!" 

The combination of words sounded familiar and then it hit me-- Hey! That's my book! 
I looked up to see a regular from the restaurant (who has been reading the blog) waving and giving me a big smile. 

I jumped on the bus, absolutely thrilled with the funny little moments life provides. 
There I was feeling sorry for myself, and just when I needed it, I got a random shout out. 

My first official shout out was an actual, literal shout-out. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Update: Beer?

In the latest book news, more rejection! Yee, and might I add, haw.
This one was particularly wonderful:

Dear Penn,

I really like this writer – I mean, as a writer, but also as someone with whom I could enjoy a fun drink after work – and I enjoyed reading this. And I grimly suspect that when the book comes out, her situation will still be all too familiar to many new graduates and their families. But in the end, I just wasn’t sure we’d be able to get enough copies into reviewers’ and readers’ hands to make this work here.

So I’m sorry to stand aside, but I hope you’re hearing better news elsewhere.

All the best,



Do you think I should be worried or buoyed by the fact that editor rejections now include offers to drink?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh No.

Just got an email from my literary agent saying that the new website will include pictures of the authors with their bios. If you've ever tried to take a picture with me, you understand why I started to sweat when I read this. 

I'm awkward. It's fine. I'm totally cool with it. I flail, trip, blush, miss social cues on the daily and have come to understand that that's just who I am. But bring out a camera and I immediately forget my Zen state of awkwardness and start to freak out. Every picture I take is ruined by the commentary I make about not liking to take pictures. So a head shot should be just the thing to snap me out of that. (cough). 

I'm thinking of just sending this one in because it's essentially the summation of every other pic I've ever taken.      

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Father Is Steve Martin.

Little shout out to my dad on dad's day! 

A few things you should know about my father:
-He has written some of the greatest letters I've ever received.
-He is genuinely thrilled to see everyone he runs into. Everyone. 
-He's the hardest worker I know. (And I know a lot of hard workers)
-He's silly in all the best possible ways. Just as an example, I've seen my father play fake guitar with a vacuum more times than I'd like to admit.
-He used to wake us up in the morning with orange juice in a champagne flute. When I was living at home as an adult, he still did this. 
-I once overheard him talking to someone at a party about me and my sisters and he said, "They're my life." 
Even though I knew this, and know this, overhearing him say it made me really happy.

Missed Call/Good Call.

Someone left their Blackberry at the restaurant today and when it started to ring, Lauren noticed the incoming call was from someone named, My Lovebug. 

Me: Please tell me Geoff isn't in your phone as Moondoggie.
Lauren. No! No. Definitely not. (Pause.) He's actually stored as G Wizard. 
Me: OK, that's worse.

Then I mentioned that I'm stored in my sister's phone as, Jessica Martin-- something I discovered while calling her and running into her at the same time. This still kills me. Her reasoning was that she has a lot of Jessica's in her phone and it's just easier to have last names. She never came up with an answer as to why I wouldn't just be known by Cher/Oprah/Sister status as the only Jess in there.  Whatever.

So I was telling this to Lauren and she interrupted me: 
Lauren: Your older sister?
Me: Sorry?
Lauren: You're in your older sister's phone as Jessica Martin?
Me: Yeah.
Lauren: I totally knew it was your older sister. Just from reading about her and hearing stories, I knew it had to be her.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Not To Mention The Pigeons.

Statues get no respect. 

While walking through Davis Square the other day, Mer pointed out two children kicking the statues. I believe her I-spy moment was expressed with something along the lines of, "Those kids are totally kicking the elderly couple statues in the crotch."

And she was right. They totally were. 

Two children, barely at the waist level of the statues, stood in front of the elderly couple and repeatedly kicked them in their crotches using "Hiiiii-Ya!" sound effects. The kicks were delivered with 100% accuracy and Tae Bo speed. We watched them for about a minute. I have no idea how long they were doing it before we arrived.  

Now, I support non-violence and I support art. But this was funny. What killed me is that no one said anything. Where were their parents?!  And ironically, there was a little ceramics fair going on right next to this, so you would think one of the artists might have asked them to stop just out of fear for their own work. If two five-year-olds can continuously kick a grandma and grandpa statue in their hoo-has without a word from the crowd, imagine what they could do to a little clay coffee mug.   

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quote of the day.

Kelly: A girl I graduated from high school with is sitting at table 43. I should probably go say hello but I smell like french fries and have cream cheese on my boob. I think I'm going to pass. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Forgot This.

Researchers have found the world's oldest leather shoe, according to the Associated Press. Dated to be over 5,500 years old, the shoe was discovered in the mountains of Armenia in what archeologists believe to be the world's first bowling alley.

A researcher involved with the find said, "This is thrilling for many reasons, but mostly because we now know that the concept of rental shoes existed before recorded human history."

It is believed that the old shoe's owner left his footwear with the bowling alley staff as a deposit for a different pair of cowhide shoes specifically designed not to scratch the lanes. 

The discovery has led archeologists to understand that humans have been walking away with bowling shoes that don't belong to them since perhaps the beginning of time. 

Semi-related note: One time at the restaurant, a busser came up to me with a high heel. Explaining that he had found it at a table, he asked me to put it aside in lost and found.
Furrowing his brow, he asked, "How did she leave?" 
Then, smiling, he lifted himself up on the toes of his left foot, and walked away, shifting his weight to a lower right foot, then back up to his toes, and repeat.   

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I Mean, Seriously?

The first time I met my girlfriend's parents, her father called me a liar. 

I should explain. 

To be fair, we weren't even dating at this point. But I had a huge crush on her and was nervous to meet her parents all the same. I wanted to make a good first impression--which is something I've never actually done-- so there was a little pressure. Her mother had prepared a fabulous meal at their beach house and right before sitting down to enjoy, I asked to make a toast. Raising my glass, I cleared my throat and said, "I'd like to toast to Canada. To the land... north of us. It's where I grew up. Anyway, they're very happy right now. Cheers!"

It was basically a word-for-word version of a toast Mer's father gave after Canada won the gold medal for hockey. I thought it might elicit a chuckle. 
Surprise surprise, I was wrong. 

Giving Meredith a little smile, I stood as her father considered me for a moment and then asked with genuine curiosity, "Where in Canada are you from?"

We had literally talked moments earlier about my family's farm in upstate New York, where I had mentioned I was raised. This hit him and he said, "Wait, you're not from Canada!" 
Meredith's mother quickly stepped in and tried to explain my reference. "No, Bob. She was talking about..."
"You're from Rochester! Or that port!"
"Right, I know, I was just..."
"So you lied."
With this, I burst out laughing. "Yes, I suppose I did."

I spent the entire dinner that night making sure all of my attempts at jokes were based on 100% truths.

Anyway, Meredith's old high school recently organized a production to honor their fantastic theatre program before the school is torn down and replaced by a new one.  Alumni were asked to come back and perform, and obviously, Mer was on that list. My girl can siiiing, y'all.

When I met her parents outside the auditorium, I was already sweating. It was easily 115 degrees in the school, and news flash, I've been known to get nervous. They both greeted me warmly and her father immediately commented on the fact that I had flowers. 
"Flowers? That's nice."
Looking around and noticing that almost no one else had flowers, I immediately started to sweat more. Were flowers a stupid idea? Shit.

We made our way into the auditorium and the temperature rose to about 135 degrees. It was uncomfortable. Tropical, really. Think of sitting in a cramped row of seats in a jungle theatre while trying to force yourself to stop sweating. It was like that.
The flowers started to wilt. Neat. Fucking flowers.

The event began, but because theatre people have been known to have a way with words (bug out eyes) the speeches lasted far longer than all of the performances combined. At one point, a man walked us through half of the school with his tour of words. "You start in the lot," he said, dramatically, of course. "And you come in through the lobby, and walk through the theatre, and onto the stage, and through the wings, and leave a door, and walk down a hall, and pass a room, and come to another room. Room 127." 

This is where I started to smile to myself. My little sister and I used to press on each other's legs at Sabrina's performances when we wanted to laugh at something. I had to actually fight doing this to Meredith's father as the man's speech continued. "And in that room... a piano..." 

I should mention that I've been having a huge problem trying to sleep over the past few months that has completely altered what I find funny. Listening to this man wax poetic about a hallway or the contents of a room now qualified as something that I wanted to cry laughing about. I was worried that I would bust with out a roaring HAAAAAAAAAAA at any moment. I was also worried that I had sweat through all of my clothing. I was also fidgeting uncontrollably knowing that the 2+ hours worth of performances that had already passed were about to be followed by a "Musical Medley" including  selections from no less than 17 musicals. What the what?!  
The flowers were now dead. 

The absolute, hands down, "I know I'm biased, but this is legit" highlight of the night was Meredith's performance. Driving around with her as she sings along to her playlist is easily one of my favorite things about life. I LOVE HER VOICE. But I've never seen her on stage before. She was incredible. She was just unbelievably good. Ok, you're going to vomit, I'll stop. But I'm serious. Worth every second of sweating it out in an auditorium. When she left the stage to thunderous applause, the MC's for the night came back out. With a shaking head and widened eyes, one of them responded to her performance by saying only, "I mean, seriously?!"

When the night fiiiiiinally ended (I'm not saying it was bad. It was truly wonderful. Truly. It just also happened to be longer than the Director's cut of Titanic), I leaned over to her parents and said, "The after-show dessert reception has been changed to brunch."
Looking to his program, and then to me, Mer's dad asked, "Really?"
Coming to my rescue with a soft smile and a gentle hand on his arm, Meredith's mother flatly said, "No, Bob."   

Monday, June 07, 2010


I spent my Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago, visiting one of the greatest people I know. My friend Katie possesses an energy that is instantly infectious. People just become happier and more positive around her. When I was considering a move out to Chicago a few years ago, Katie wrote me a Top 10 list of reasons why I should do it. Knowing about my cynical nature at the time, she noted, "I hope my enthusiasm for life doesn't discredit my opinion here." 
It still makes me laugh. Anyway, she sort of shows life how it's meant to be lived, so who better to lead us around the Windy City?

It's important to know a few fun facts about walking around Chicago with Katie.
1) She stops for every dog she sees. Every dog. The number one sentence for the weekend was, "Can I pet your dog?" which she asked to every owner as she bent down to say hello to their pet. It was basically impossible to get through a farmer's market with her considering the amount of dogs we saw. When we passed the cutest little puppy ever on a street in her neighborhood, Katie pushed her way into a crowd of children petting it and started to freak out. Someone passing by looked to the puppy's owner and referring to the group of people waiting to say hello said, "It must be hard to get to where you're going with that little one." 
He could have easily been referring to Katie.

There are also a lot of dogs in Chicago named Wrigley. A fact that my friend shared with me and we found to be true. "Everyone here names their dog Wrigley. Every other dog is Wrigley. You'll see."

2) She knows every person is Chicago. Wherever we went, she knew someone. It was weird, and hilarious, and wonderful. At one point, we passed an outdoor seating area at a bar and she leaned over to look a guy straight in the face to make sure it was who she thought it was and then casually mentioned, "That's my cousin."
Of course it is.

3) This was how she introduced me to every person we met: "This is Jess. She's moving here."
Which was followed by my nervous reaction, and heightened indecisive tendencies, and a rush of thoughts about my favorite girl in Boston that caused me to stutter through my hellos. "Well.. I mean, um, I'm just... visiting, really."

We had a crazy good time full of great laughs, wicked sunburns, exciting sports games, and lots of beer. Chicago is an amazing city full of incredibly nice people. I absolutely adore it. 

On my last night there, walking back to Katie's apartment with some take-out, she stopped to say hello to yet another dog. When she asked the owner the dog's name, he replied, "This is Fenway." 

I smiled to myself about the sign.   

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Lesson In Birth Order.

In the latest example of the difference between my sisters, Sabrina recently sent out an email including all of her contact information in London. Whenever she travels she sends her complete flight itineraries to my family, highlighting airport codes, dates, and arrival times, she mentions the names/emails/numbers of the people she's meeting, and shares all the necessary and unnecessary information concerning where she's staying. To give you an idea of how detailed this latest email was, she included the price per minute she will be charged on her international phone plan. 

So the best way to get in touch with me will definitely be e-mail. I'll check it every night, and I bought a data plan for my phone. If you need to reach me immediately, just call. My phone is unlocked and it's a $1.29 a min. It will be good in case there are "emergencies"...

Who does that? 

Anyway, last night Bri forwarded me this message from our mother:

Thank you for including me in your contact info email. As your sister was preparing to leave for the plane, her contact information was the following: I am staying on an island in Miami, There won't be an emergency.  I have my phone.  

Were you both raised in the same home? 

Love, Mom
Note: You might have noticed that the word "emergency" is thrown around a lot in these travel emails. For my mother, travel is simply a way to test how well you've prepared for emergencies. It's never really about enjoyment. It's mostly knowing that you've packed enough sprays, given the phone number of your hotel to your grandmother, and have an Ace bandage tucked away somewhere.