Friday, July 29, 2005

Life on the El

First off, thanks to everyone who came to the book signing Wednesday. You guys rock! Second, my apologies for being five minutes late. My in-laws (maternal side) would have drawn and quartered me for arriving five minutes late, as they always arrive everywhere en masse 30 minutes early. Thirty minutes early is "on time." To put this in perspective, my family typically runs about a day late for everything.

Anyway, I digress. I actually have a reason for being late, and not just that I misplaced my keys again. My reason is: the CTA sucks. For those you of you non-Chicagoans, the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) is our public transportation system, including elevated trains, subways and buses.

Let me paint a picture for you of the CTA. For those of you not familiar with public transportation, the "el" (elevated train) is sort of like the monorail at Disney World, if the monorail smelled like stale urine and broke down constantly.

I live in the first suburb north of Chicago, and became very familiar with the el when I was working downtown, using it every day to commute. The CTA is sort of like a craps shoot - you never know if it's going to take you 30 minutes or 30 days to get where you're going. On the train, there are a number of reasons you can be delayed - signal light malfunction, suspicious packages, person having a heart attack on the train in front of you, suicide attempt on the electric tracks, falling debris from old buildings (yes, this did happen to me) or my personal favorite: spontaneous fires breaking out on the train and/or tracks due to the age of both.

Anyway, I decided to take the CTA into Chicago because parking cost $100 an hour, or your firstborn child, whichever you can afford to part with. Needless to say, I allowed for an hour and a half for the trip that should take forty minutes, but I was late because my red line train stopped for no apparent reason on the tracks. I think the driver wanted to take a nap.

As an added bonus, my pal the Fake Blind Panhandler was on board the train. This is the guy who claims to be blind (has a stick) but his guide stick never comes into contact with anything. He also manages to deftly avoid the poles, seats and crowds of commuters without actually touching them, all while shouting "Ladies and Gentleman, I am blind. Imagine if you were blind? Please help me. This is a tough life." I have no doubt it's a tough life. I'd hate to have to work on the CTA train. Not to mention, faking blindness is probably pretty stressful, even faking it badly.

My friend, Beth, says that she wants to open a school for panhandlers. She would tell them all to use the "kill them with kindness" technique. "I would definitely give a dollar if one of them told me these pants make my butt look small," she'd say. "Wouldn't you?" I think I would.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

More Shameless Self Promotion

Okay, I realize that by this point, you all are probably sick to death of my shameless self-promotion, but I would be amiss if I didn't mention my book signing today in Chicago. I'll be out at Barabara's Books in the basement of Marshall Field's today at noon doing a straight book signing. Drop by and say hello!

You'll notice a few more guys than usual hanging around the bookstore, and that's because this is the signing where my husband drags all of his coworkers along to buy my book. It's become a rite of passage for his truest friends (or the guys sucking up to him) at work, because they have to buy a girly-looking book and then carry it back with them to work. One of them actually thanked me for having a red cover this time instead of a pink or purple one.

Anyway, come on by and say hello if you're in the neighborhood. There's even a foodcourt nearby - and they have great french fries.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ah, Ego, you're overrated

Hello! I am back from the beach, relatively unscathed. I slathered on sunscreen so I have that pinkish burn instead of the second-degree blisters I usually get after drinking one too many Coronas and falling asleep with my copy of US Weekly strategically placed across my chest for the weirdest possible sun tan.

My husband, however, is in far worse shape. He forgot to put sunscreen on his feet (so he's got a bright red burn in the shape of his flip-flops and he broke a finger playing a friendly game of beach football with his 6'3", 220-lb younger brother). This is sad, yes, but it's even sadder for me. Those of you with whiny husbands know exactly what I'm talking about. He's worse than a toddler when it comes to his pain-threshold. He takes Advil for paper cuts. Now that he actually has a broken finger (hairline fracture which takes a magnifying glass to see) believe me, he's milking it for all it's worth.

At any rate, thanks to everyone who stopped by for Thursday's book signing. My apologies for the lack of a reading. That particular Barnes and Noble felt it would be better if I just sat at the front of the store with a stack of my books. I spent the hour and a half making awkward eye contact with random patrons coming into the store who couldn't figure out if I was an author or if I was handing out free pizza samples, like those lovely ladies in the frozen aisle section of your local grocery store.

Real sample conversation with one live patron:

Patron: "You're the author?"
Me: "That's right!" (Beaming a smile, giving them a hopeful look as they pick up a copy of Dixieland Sushi)
Patron: "Is this any good?"
Me: "I think it's fantastic, but then I have to say that, I wrote it" (Awkward laugh by me. No laugh at all from humorless patron).
Patron: "Is this book for kids? I've got a niece who's 10. You think she'd like it?"
Me: "It's for adults, actually, but..."
Patron: Hmpf. (Drops book as if it's on fire). Well, do you know where I can find Harry Potter?

What can I say? Maybe Barnes and Noble was short-handed that night. Maybe they have a put-authors-to-work program in which we're supposed to man the customer service table. On the bright side, at least I didn't have to make lattes. I don't think I'm smart enough to work that machine.

On the up side, it was great training for my second career later in life as a Wal-Mart Greeter.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I went to the beach and all you got was this dumb post

Okay, folks, I have some bad or good news, depending on how you look at it. I am getting on a plane tomorrow and going to the Massachusetts shore to frolic in the Atlantic Ocean with my husband and his family. In all likelihood, this means I won't be posting for the rest of the week, because I have a lot of drunken sunbathing to catch up on, and I think you haven't lived into you've gotten a skin cancer scare.

But if you get really, really desperate for a Cara Lockwood fix and you live in or near Hingham, Massachusetts, swing by my book signing Thursday. Yes, I'm so committed to shameless self-promotion that I've actually scheduled a book signing on my vacation. Can you say "tax write-off"?

Anyway, if you come, you'll get to meet my hubby and my in-laws. I suspect they'll be the ones with the sunburn and the fruity drinks in their hands, heckling me to hurry up so we can get back to imitating beached whales.

For now, I have to go back to helping my husband pack. Left to his own devices, he's like a toddler. He'll pack his favorite shirt and lots of candy.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Beach books that are better than Aloe Vera

Okay, I made a couple of reading suggestions based on the novels of people I know and a couple of you actually took me up on them! I had no idea my powers of persuasion were so great. While I'm in danger of letting this power go to my head and become like that mall security guard who is a little too attached to his flashlight, I'm still going to share some more suggestions.

Below are some of my Favorite Beach Books of All Time. Next to Cosmo and SPF 45, they're my must-haves on the beach.

Romantic Comedies

Watermelon by Marian Keyes. I love Keyes. She's fantastic, but this is one of her most entertaining books (in my mall security guard opinion). If you've ever thought your marriage was in trouble, try having your husband leave you the morning you give birth to your first child! I should warn you, if you pick this one up, be sure you're in a comfortable place because you may not get up again until you finish.

Mr. Maybe by Jane Green. Ever thought you'd rather marry rich? So does Libby Mason in this delicious tale from another master, Jane Green.

Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman Are we all just like cattle? When it comes to breaking up, maybe we are. If you ever wanted to know the science behind breaking up, Laura Zigman will give it to you sraight. This was made into a movie (a bad adaption) with Hugh Jackman and Ashley Judd. Skip the movie, but get the book.

Laugh Out Loud Funny

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love by Merrill Markoe. Markoe used to write for David Letterman. Her humor is not for the weak-hearted. She's caustic and biting but unflinchingly funny. In this book, she has a series of stories about trying to find love in all the wrong places, including the celestial plane.

Anything by Laurie Notaro. She has several short-story collections, including The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club, among many others. Warning: if you read Laurie Notaro in public be sure to wear Depends. You might just laugh that hard.

Those are just some of the books I recommend for summer reading. I've never met any of those authors, so it's not like they're bribing me with margaritas or anything. Happy reading.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Made For TV

I've gotten a couple of questions about movies, specifically whether Pink Slip Party or Dixieland Sushi will be made into a movie. Of course, "I Do (But I Don't)" was made into a Lifetime Original Movie starring Denise Richards and Dean Cain, both of whom are now my best friends and we vacation together in Cannes swapping stories about how people hate us because we're so damn gorgeous, rich and famous (okay, the last part was a total lie, but they did star in the Lifetime movie and I did have conversations with them that lasted about 10 minutes).

Anyway, here's the scoop on Pink Slip Party - my agent pitched it to Lifetime, but they decided they weren't comfortable with some of the criminal acts in the book, including Jane breaking and entering. Apparently, crimes on Lifetime have to involve stalking, a deranged ex-girlfriend with a knife or a husband leading a double life.

And we pitched Dixieland Sushi to a movie agent who didn't like it because it sounded too much, in his opinion, like "The Wedding Date." This is the movie about the woman who pays a guy to be her date to her sister's wedding. I'm not sure about the similarities between Dixieland Sushi (Japanese family in the South, Mr. Miyagi quotes and '80s flashbacks) with The Wedding Date (Mean-spirited family, bad dialogue and improbably sexy gigolo), but maybe this is because I'm not creative enough to work in Hollywood.

So, there you have it. No plans of yet to make any more movies, but not for lack of trying. And believe me, you guys will be the first to know if there is. I'm not one to be shy about self-promotion (see my entire website).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Tech IQ = 50

I am technology-challenged. I love gadgets, don't get me wrong. I'm just a little slow with using them. Case in point: my husband bought me an Ipod for Christmas last year and it took me two months (yes, two months) to realize that you're supposed to run your finger around in a circle around the little menu pad. I'd been trying to flip through song files by going up and down. That's right, I'm a proud Penn graduate.

Unfortunately, part of my problem is that I adhere to my dad's life philosophy that you never, under any circumstances should read the instructions for anything. This do-it-yourself approach helps only when dealing with Ikea furniture instructions (in Swedish) and pretty much nothng else.

So, recently I went wireless at home. This sounded like a good idea. I am fundamentally lazy, so the idea of not only not changing out of my pajamas to check my email but also not even getting out of bed, well, sign me up. I'm all for it.

Unfortunately, my low tech IQ made the whole wireless thing a bit of a challenge. I couldn't get the damn think to work. I knew I was in trouble when I started feeling like maybe if I just knocked my wireless router with a rock, maybe it would work. I think my low point was when even my computer told me "If you are still having trouble, seek the help of your system administrator."

Since I am my own system administrator, I knew I was in trouble. I never thought I'd miss those IT support guys (and girls) from my old office jobs. The people who didn't make eye contact and talked about Quake a lot. I hated asking for their help because I always feared they would discover that part of my computer problems stemmed from the fact that I had months worth of bagel crumbs in my keyboard.

Anyway, I finally did get the wireless router working. I sacrificed a chicken and did a voodoo dance, and I think that worked. Of course, every other day it decides not to work for some reason, so I only get to email in bed half the week. I suppose that's better than nothing.

Now, if I could only figure out how to get an espresso machine hooked up to my alarm clock, I think I would really be set.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Return of Riley?

Tiffany said...

As a fellow blogger, you'll have to forgive me for this ridiculously "late" comment, but I finished Dixieland last night at around, oh...2 a.m.

*sigh* I loved Riley, and I love your sense of humor! I'll be out looking for your other books tonight. I hope to see those characters in another story in the future.

First off, thanks, Tiffany, for the compliments - and I didn't even have to pay you (yet) - you're swell, and I mean it.

Second, about Riley. I love him, too. I've heard quite a lot of rumblings out there about Riley-crushes, and I have to say, I agree. I'm with you. I'm the president of the Riley fan club.

I'd love to bring him (and Jen) back for a sequel. I haven't yet pitched the idea to my editor, but I would love to have a story about them meeting his parents, because you know if they're half as interesting as he is, it's going to make for a fun story.

Anyway, I'll be sure to keep posted. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I admit it, I watch The Real World

Okay, my husband makes fun of me because I am 32 and I watch MTV. Specifically, I watch The Real World, you know - the original reality TV (before it became sullied with eating bugs or voting people off islands or babbling b-list celebrities).

The Real World is reality TV in its purest, most staged and predictable form, and I can't stop watching it. This year, the Real World is in Austin (which is the excuse I give myself to tune in because I used to live in Austin, and I still miss the BBQ at the Salt Lick).

I realize that Real World is no Being Bobbi Brown (which by the way, I also can't stop watching), but here's a really good reason to tune in: You get to watch a bunch of drinking amateurs.

For one thing, no matter how drunk you get as an adult, you're never this drunk. Not that I haven't tried being slurred, stumbling drunk in my post-25 years, but it's as if my body just got really good at absorbing alcohol. My liver is too big and strong to be felled by a few Jell-O shots.

Anyway, if you miss those young, heady days of virgin binge drinking, or if you'd like to see alcohol effects on a liver without Cirrhosis, tune into Real World. Some highlights: bar brawls over nothing at all, slurred declarations of love, drunken hook-ups, teary, drunk break-ups, and my personal favorite: tequila body shots.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I'm a Yankee Doodle Doofus

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend. Because I'm so patriotic, I took the celebration of our liberty for an extra day. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty useless this week. This morning I've been staring at my cursor, wondering why it's blinking so slowly.

It could be the fact that four solid days of drinking beer and activity more strenuous than typing have finally worn me out.

My husband and I spent the weekend pretending that we lead the lives of those overly-active Eddie Bauer models that are always jumping over creeks or playing tennis in matching cardigan sets. Unfortunately, neither my husband nor I are very good at working out. We spent about thirty minutes throwing the Frisbee Sunday and decided that we were good and winded and had earned some really fattening fruit-flavored freezes (courtesy of Joy Yee's). Ah, sugary goodness. And after that, well, we had to go get tapes and drink Sangria. It just seemed like the thing to do.

You know you're leading a sedentary lifestyle when 30 minutes of Frisbee throwing and an hour on the patio gives you a sunburn and makes you want to go to sleep.

We spent the actual fourth pulling muscles playing badmitton with our friends, the Kinsellas. The game required you to have a paddle in one hand and a beer in another. You only lost points if you spilled your beer. It's a lot more challenging than it sounds, especially in the rain (that poured while we played). The rest of the weekend is a blur, although I'm pretty sure there were fireworks and more strained muscles. Someone remind me to stretch before picnicking next time.