Monday, March 31, 2008

A call for hearts

Anyone know where I can get some vintage heart charms? Quick-like?

I'll be making 35 pairs of earrings for the winning bidders at Yukie's Team in Training bachelor auction. I need to send the earrings to her by the first week in May, and I just realized that tomorrow is April 1st. Yikes. By the way, the auction is a fundraiser for the San Diego marathon in June. More details to come...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

On writing well

While waiting to see a doctor at the urgent care clinic last night, I had time to read 30 pages of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. He tells writers to simplify and write clearly. Good advice, but I’ll spare you the symptoms of why I was at the clinic; let’s just sum it up as digestive distress.

The doctor and nurses were really nice. In fact, I rarely have bad experiences at the doctor; I just bring a good book to pass the time. Anyway, the doctor said I was doing the right things: soup, saltines, ginger ale. She recommended the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. (Wouldn’t it have been great if she meant a grilled sausage with raw onions and a bit of mayo?)

So I went to the grocery store and picked up the bland items. I also bought mac and cheese and blackberries, in anticipation of my triumphant return to dairy products and acidic fruit.

Even though my weekend is off to an inauspicious start, I figure I’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy reading my reference books. I wish you an uneventful weekend, too.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Style matters

I started reading the AP Stylebook. The Bible of the newspaper industry (so it says on the cover). Most of the book is organized alphabetically, and I’ve been reading one letter’s worth of entries a day. That’s not how you’re supposed to use the book (it’s akin to reading the dictionary), but there’s some cool stuff I discovered. Like the difference between blond and blonde. That adviser is not spelled with an –or at the end. That Dr Pepper has no period after Dr.

Occasionally a single word or phrase will appear sans further explanation. It’s good to know that there’s no capitalization in brussels sprouts, but is broccoli a commonly misspelled word? Or bicycle?

It’s also interesting to see the AP preferred spellings and usage of words. Amok, not amuck (really, I might use it someday). By the way, here’s an AP rule that I don't understand: best-seller is always hyphenated. Not in my world! In general, I tend to under-hyphenate, instead opting to run words together at whim. To me, hyphenation often adds clutter. And you know how I hate clutter.

So far, I've only read through letter D. But I am looking forward to the entire alphabet. Good stuff.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wigging out

Carole, BeadStyle’s art director, threw a wig party yesterday to celebrate her birthday. Costumes weren't required; just wigs. She wore reddish-hued hair, which looked adorable and was styled much like her everyday hair. Here she is with her husband, Ed, and Lisa, wearing tight curls. When Lisa’s wig arrived, she propped it on a vase, where she later found her dog growling at it.

And here are Jay and Debbie (in the black and purple) and Serene and Carlos (the blonde and the green). Jay was the tallest, grandest person in the room and had originally considered going as Don King. Serene said she got some strange looks in the drugstore with her ‘do. In a sea of blondes, Deb and Carlos — along with the birthday girl — had the most colorful hair in the room.

I myself had bought a flowing blond wig — which I should have tried on before 6:00 the night of the party. Instead of sexy bombshell, my look was more George Washington: whitish, powdery curls. Even more egregious, I had neglected an important detail in my look: my brows. They’re black. Only blondes with matching eyebrows have more fun.

As you can see, I went to the party sans wig. Here I am with Lisa and Linda, two of my Gamma Phi Beta sorority sisters. Linda, the editor of Make It Mine, looked beautiful (and convincing) as a brunette but said it required more makeup than usual. In the front row: Ed and Bergie, whose flowing hair nicely disguises his five o’ clock shadow. Bergie flipped his hair throughout the night, asking, “Anyone got a scrunchie?”

All in all, it was a great time. We watched a slideshow that Ed and Carole had put together with scenes of their dogs, vacations, and gatherings with friends. And we ate M&Ms and watched NCAA basketball, stuff that even a girl without a wig could enjoy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Tuesday with Lizzie

I just talked to Liz, my college roommate, about my essay. For over two hours. We talked about the minutiae of writing. The difference between “wonder” and “realize.” The challenge of how to introduce yourself in an essay. Where a story starts (where my story starts). What details are relevant, necessary, or even superfluous.

This is all good, but I have less energy for blogging. And I do enjoy blogging! So please be patient. At some point, I’ll take a break from writing about writing.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Writing and rewriting

For the past week, most of my energy has gone into revising my personal essay (the one I brought to the class in NY). The process has been pretty consuming — probably for all the people who helped me with drafts, too. Stacy, Michelle, Addie, and Jean read the first draft (yikes!) and raised a lot of helpful questions. Jennifer and Veeda, writers from Liza’s class, are taking a look at one of the many revised versions. And Lindsay, Jane, and Liz are helping with yet another version. Of course, my sister Yukie just got a copy. She doesn’t tolerate self-indulgence (and is not afraid to say when something is specific but not interesting), so she’ll probably give me some helpful feedback, too.

Stacy and I have formed a writing group (or dyad, to be precise). She’s both encouraging and critical, which is priceless during the editing process. Everyone else gets nothing in return, ‘cept my gratitude and a standing offer to return the favor.

At some point I’ll have to stop revising and commit, which is a scary prospect. But I do wonder if there’s a danger in overediting, where you lose what made the story uniquely yours in the first place.

The good news: it appears that I’ve gotten through my writer’s block. It’s a novel feeling to be editing stuff after I’ve written it (as compared to agonizing over putting words into a draft). I think my friends have been especially supportive in that respect. Even though writing is a solitary activity, it’s reassuring to know that it doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be worth doing. Thanks, everyone!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Brows, beaten

A new addition to my must-do list for New York: get my brows done by Ramy. When I called at 2:30 to request a same-day appointment, he replied, "Very last minute notice." But he graciously set one up anyway. With nervous anticipation, I wondered if he'd live up to the hype (adoration from beauty magazines and a long list of celebrity clients). And what would he be able to do with my underwhelming brows — in particular, the one that likes to grow in straight?

When I arrived, I was surprised to find there was no receptionist or assistant. Just Ramy and a client. (Typically, he doesn't take clients on Mondays; that's why he answered his own phone. I really lucked out.) I had a few minutes to admire the wall of photos. One of the most curious: Rudy Giuliani.

When Ramy finished up with his client, he brought me to his chair and got to work on my brows. He didn't ask any questions about how I wanted them to look, just started trimming and plucking while sharing stories about how nice and charming Nigel Barker is. This seems to be Ramy's approach: he keeps you entertained as, hair by hair, he changes your life. I'm not exaggerating: that's how good he is, elevating brow sculpting to a fine art. I am hooked. Or, arched, if that's a more fitting description.

He also cheerfully did my makeup — "since you're here," he explained. "Great cheekbones," he said — an amazing compliment from a celebrity makeup artist. I looked like a different person when he was finished. It's hard not to feel like an egomaniac while complimenting someone's ability to bring out your beauty, but I was astounded. My stumpy brows were now perfectly arched.

If you visit Ramy, be sure to let him know how much you appreciate your transformation. He never gets tired of hearing it, and I hope to be able to say it at least once a year.

PS: Props to Meg, one of the PR girls for JA, for telling me about him. I will have to check in with you next year to find out what other fabulous info you have about the city.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Winter 2008 JA New York show

The reason I'm in New York: the JA New York show. It used to be in late January, but they decided to have it in March this year. I thought that I'd enjoy better weather, but the city has seen some umbrella-inverting rainstorms and, through the wee hours of this morning, winds that rattled the hotel windows. By the way, if you bid on hotels on Priceline, it's worth opting for the three-star (rather than the two-and-a-half star) hotels. Of course, I'm assuming that three-star hotels have working heat and a free wireless connection.

On a happier note, I met up with Jean Yates at the show, which features finished jewelry from more than 800 vendors plus a few loose bead suppliers. I fell in love with, deliberated, and finally decided to buy a strand of aqua quartz briolettes. These are the biggest beads I've ever bought. Imagine: chunky beads the size of the watch face on a man's wristwatch. I'm planning a necklace with the stones overlapping in a 3-D-ish effect.

Jean is so enthusiastic about jewelry, she not only encouraged me to buy the briolettes and other strands, she also gave me a handmade pair of silver hoop earrings with charms, pearls, crystals, and lampworked beads. This was such a thoughtful gift, and it was sweet of her to remember that I love big hoops.

We stopped by to say hi to one of my favorite designers, Ray Griffiths. I tried on beautiful drop earrings and a smoky topaz ring that looks very much like the pink amethyst ring I bought from him. Every JA show, I think fondly back to my first show in 2004, when Ray humored me as I fell in love with, deliberated, and finally decided not to buy a brilliant round amethyst ring. You could say I have a teensy bit of buyer's remorse at not getting it. What's strange, though, is that I could still get it. I just haven't because I feel like the moment has passed. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I also found a couple of new favorites: Shondra Leigh and Moritz Glik. Shondra and her partner walked us through their collection, which features briolettes, organic metal shapes, and tiny wire wraps. And Moritz dazzled us with his white sapphire rings, which have tiny diamonds floating inside — clever feats of engineering.

After we wandered the show floor for a couple of hours, it was time for lunch. We happened upon Trestle in Chelsea, where we ate veggie omelettes, drank tea, and talked about books, jewelry, and matters of the heart. Could this day get any better?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Personal essay class

Today I took a Personal Essay Workshop from Media Bistro. Liza, the instructor, gave us really helpful feedback and I can't wait to re-work my essay. Really! It's priceless to be able to share my work with a group of strangers and get critiqued. Don't get me wrong, it's also intimidating to workshop a piece. I'm pretty attached to my essay, and readers aren't always attached in the same way. How could they be? Some things I need to work on: not overusing parentheses, including more scene/dialogue, and putting more of myself in the piece. Some good stuff: my writing has a strong voice and there were a couple of sentences that I could move to the lede. Anyway, that's enough specifics. I'll let you know how the revision process goes.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Burgers in New York

I’m in New York for work, but I spent yesterday catching up with Lana, one of my first friends at college, and Vince, her ex from many years ago, who now lives in NY. We’re at Daddy-O having a late-night snack and Vince is not actually miserable, though he looks so in the photo. Just a moment later, we toasted his 35th birthday and took a nicer photo. By the way, Lana and I met in our Comparative Literature 1A class, held at 8 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the first semester of our freshman year. Occasionally, we also skipped out of Evolutionary Biology together to go shopping and drink smoothies. Now she and her husband have left San Francisco and the world of finance and live in western Mass. She’s an artist and you can see her work on her blog.

This afternoon, Lana and I had burgers, fries, and grilled veggies at Bar 89, owned by the very same Karl Kopp who owns Milwaukee's Elsa's. Both restaurants have a similar feel (same glassware, tables, vases, and Coke served from a bottle), and the burgers are fantastic. I always get the same thing: four cheeses, raw onion, medium well (because so many places get that wrong on the first try). By the way, I didn't get a burger at Daddy-O, but they serve theirs with tater tots.

Hope you are eating well and wandering around a cool city.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cool Jewels in Teen

Check out Cool Jewels in the Spring issue of Teen. The issue hits newsstands today. My book is in the "You'll Heart" section, right across from the Guy Guide! (Which I read, by the way.) I'm going to share my copy with my friend Mary so she can take the "Are you a good flirt?" quiz. We could all use a little lighthearted flirtation after our angry winter.