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  • I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read.

Archive for January, 2011

Snowed out

Posted on January 27th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Ugh, last night. So if you don’t follow East Coast weather (and why would you, if you don’t live here?), I’m here to tell you that New York got 11-19 (depending on who you listen to) inches of snow last night, and I had a front row seat for the blizzard. This is because I made the mistake of not going home after post-work drinks with my coworkers when I realized that it was 9 PM and I’d been at the drinks thing since 6 PM. But I was feeling good and even though it was snowing outside I decided to hop in a cab (oh, if only I hadn’t been able to get a cab–I would’ve gone home and been cozy in bed while the snow fell, but alas) and head to meet my friends at my favorite watering hole.


Trivia was just finishing up and they won some money, so we stayed a while longer–a LONG while longer, it turns out. I was enjoying my time talking to a friend I don’t see as often as the others and didn’t quite realize how snowy and late it was getting until finally we looked outside and were like, DAMN. Because it was insane out there. Nobody really wanted to leave (and I don’t blame them, because the weather was looking formidable at best), but I convinced them that it would only get worse and we should head home, since many of us live on the Upper West Side, on the exact opposite side of town from the bar.

We went outside and tried to hail a cab with no luck. Suddenly the search for a cab devolved into a snowball fight, and twenty minutes later we all trudged sopping wet back into the bar. WHICH WAS DUMB. We should’ve just gotten on the subway, it was four blocks away! Now, granted, I hate taking the subway to and from this part of town. It requires a transfer, which I try to avoid if at all possible, and it also requires that you walk through what my friend Doug calls “the vile mile”, which is a block-long tunnel between the 14th St F and L station on 6th Avenue and the 14th St 1, 2, 3 station at 7th Avenue. There’s nothing really wrong with the vile mile; it’s well-lit and safe and relatively clean, but it’s really long and for some reason my shoulders clench up every time I have to walk through it.

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, because we weren’t smart and we didn’t get on the subway. Instead we warmed up and watched the storm rage, and eventually I realized that if we didn’t leave right then and there we would probably be stuck till early morning. Which would’ve been fine if it was a weekend, we could’ve just stayed till closing and gone to the diner across the street for pancakes with the bartenders when they got off like we used to do when we were young (sigh, the good old days), but it was a Wednesday night and it was midnight and we all had to go to work tomorrow, so that was really not an option. We did a survey of the “food” in our purse (the bar kitchen was closed) and came up with three different brands of mints, and that’s it. We would make the world’s worst survivalists.


And yeah, those are pickle flavored mints. Nikki has also been known to eat entire packets of pickle salt by themselves. Not as gross as you’d think.

I really wanted to head for the subway, but other people insisted on hailing a cab, and finally–miracle of all miracles–we found one. I couldn’t believe it. AND it was a van cab, which if you live in New York you know is basically like putting your hand out and successfully hailing a unicorn.


Actual New York City van cab photograph

So it looked like everything was going to be fine, although I did worry about how I would get home from my friends’ place, since all three of them live within a three block radius twenty blocks lower than I do, and I would either have to get the cab to make a second stop (which they don’t always want to do) or trudge to the subway to take it up to my place. But unfortunately that wasn’t a problem, because the cabbie pulled over at 41st St and 3rd Avenue and told us to get out, he wasn’t taking us any further. So we were basically stranded in Midtown East in the middle of a blizzard. With no other options, we walked the couple blocks to Grand Central and, after figuring out that no, the Times Square Shuttle doesn’t actually run past midnight, we hopped on a 7 train that had just arrived. EXCEPT IT WAS GOING TO QUEENS, despite being on the Times Square track.

The wait for another 7 going in our intended direction was long, as was the wait for the 1 train at Times Square. But the actual hardest part of my trek home was the two block walk from the subway to my apartment building. It was freezing, I was wet from the earlier snowball fight, I was exhausted, and the sidewalk was piled high with 10 inches of snow. There was a point where I (melodramatically, I might add) thought I might not actually make it, that I might just fall eventually and not have the energy to get up (I also hadn’t eaten since noon, which was a bad choice). By the time I actually crawled into bed, it was 2:30 AM.


This morning, post-blizzard

And you know what? The least it could’ve done was kept snowing. That way I might’ve gotten a snow day for work for the first time ever. As I was walking down the perfectly shoveled sidewalk this morning, I just kept thinking two things: Where was all this shoveling last night when I almost collapsed and froze to death ten feet from my apartment? and I never want to own a home in a place where it snows.

Don’t forget about my event with Lauren Oliver and Leila Sales on Friday, January 28th (that’s tomorrow) at WORD in Brooklyn. Details are here. Please note that the event starts at 7:30 PM, not 7 PM as originally stated (erroneously, by me)!

Telling you for the first time

Posted on January 6th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I don’t know why I haven’t posted about this before, probably because I’m losing all of my marbles starting with the ones that allow me to remember something without first writing it down, but anyway I was just reminded today that I’m doing an event in Brooklyn on January 28, 2011 (it’s 2011–isn’t that weird?) with Leila Sales (who wrote Mostly Good Girls and is also my coworker and is also hilarious) and Lauren Oliver (who wrote Before I Fall, which I’m sure you’ve never heard of, PSYCHE you’ve totally heard about it it’s very famous)! I’m really excited about it because:

  1. It’s my first New York City event!
  2. I get to do the event with Leila and Lauren. To be honest, I would go to this event even if I weren’t participating in it. I love Mostly Good Girls and Before I Fall and it should be a really, really good show.

Below are the details–if you come, you can see my cute new haircut in person! (This haircut is a real hit, I promise, I’ve received so many compliments.)

WORD – January 28, 2011 at 7:00 PM
126 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 383-0096

We will probably be talking about the experience of publishing your first novel, but more importantly we’ll be discussing the coincidence surrounding the fact that our titles all have three words in them. See you there! (J/k, that’s the least coincidence-y thing about Leila, Lauren and I. What are the most coincidence-y things? Come and maybe we’ll tell you!)

Oh haaaaay

Posted on January 5th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Oh, BTW, I got a new haircut.


That’s all, I just wanted to share.

A Musee*

Posted on January 4th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I didn’t do much over the holiday break except endure two horrible cross-country flights, eat a lot of Polish food, and watch about eighteen episodes of Say Yes to the Dress back-to-back, but I did manage to change out of my pajamas one day (New Year’s Eve day, in fact) and go into San Francisco to spend a lovely couple of hours with my friends Kim, Anali and Scott at Fisherman’s Wharf. Specifically, we went to the Musee Mecanique, which is this awesome museum in a warehouse crammed with fully operational antique penny arcade games and other artifacts of historical interest. The museum itself is free, and you can play all the games, most of them for 25/50 cents (sometimes dimes!). Here are some snaps from that trip (all photos taken with Instagram, which is all the rage and a free app for the iPhone).


Christmas tree at Pier 39


The Rock


Lions of the sea


Okay, quick story: I don’t know what kind of birds these are, but if you squint you can tell that one of them has a tennis ball (upper mid left), and OH MAN did he not want any of those other funny looking birds to take away that tennis ball! I tried to take a video but I couldn’t zoom in at all and you would’ve seen nothing, but seriously, he was so into that tennis ball. He kept snapping at the other birds (PROBABLY HIS FRIENDS, HOW RUDE) to keep them away from it, and it kept falling into the water and he would dive in and fish it out again. It was pretty great.



Laffing Sal



Okay, this I did not get. Why would they create a moving tableau of an opium den? Who is going to an arcade, even in the twenties or thirties or eighties or whatever, and going, you know what I’d like to see? The inside of an opium den. BUT NOT A REAL ONE. Just a wooden one. That moves. Is that too much to ask? And then it wasn’t because someone created one. I wish I’d taken a video, you guys, this thing is nuts. A dragon comes out of the wall and a door opens and there’s a skeleton hanging from it. I mean, really. The only thing missing from this opium den was Chuck Bass. Remember when Chuck’s dad died and then Chuck went to an opium den? I know you do, because I reviewed that episode here.


A fortune. It’s pretty lame. Exercise? The typewriter horoscope was way better, but I think I might’ve thrown it away.


That thumb was freshly manicured!


This is the lady who gave me the fortune. I mean, for 25 cents, what do you want?


I know there’s not a double negative in that sentence, but doesn’t it seem like there is? And is that Virginia Woolf? (Yes.) I took one look at this thing and was like, “This ought to be good.” I plunked in a dime and looked through the slot and saw…a doll that I guess sort of looked like a man? So “what every married woman must not avoid” “to be happy” is…her husband? A doll shaped vaguely like a man? It’s still a mystery to me. Also: Virginia Woolf.


Yes, you saw this last in the Princess Diaries movie. Also, it’s the real reason I wanted to come to the Musee Mecanique. I, obviously, failed. Also, there’s a sign above it that has a very dramatic warning about how the machine has “super-human strength” and you should really not be a bozo and think you’re going to beat it on the highest setting because you are just a normal type human.


Scott actually beat it on the first setting without using both of his hands. You may be thinking, “First setting? Pshaw,” but I am here to tell you that it’s really hard!


Mechanical horse racing!


This was in a large display called “Santa’s Workshop”, to which Anali and I responded, “You mean Santa’s SWEATshop,” and then we high fived. Also, why does Santa look like a member of the Insane Clown Posse? Everything in the Musee Mecanique was sort of, um, horrifying and nightmarish. See: Laffing Sal.


Kim getting her fortune told.

“You will wake up tomorrow in your twin bed very small.” – Scott


Streetcars, because San Francisco.

I would have taken a picture of the Rubio’s I had for lunch except I didn’t have Rubio’s because they closed the Rubio’s in the Powell Street mall! They also closed the Fuzio near my parents house, which means that two of my favorite Bay Area restaurants ending in the letters “io” have been closed! Although honestly, Fuzio has been around for, like, twelve years and it was always a ghost town in there, so I’m really shocked it’s remained open for so long as it has. It looks like they closed the one in Dublin, Davis, and Fresno, but the locations in Modesto, both SF locations, and the one in Reno (??) are still open. Okay, nobody else reading this blog knows what I’m talking about, and of all the people I know who’ve eaten there I only know three who love it as much as I do, but this firecracker pork fusilli is going to change your life–you should make it at home and then tell me how you like it.

Don’t panic, though. There are still plenty of Rubio’s in California.

*Get it? Because a musee in French means “at the museum”, but also amuser means “to amuse”? GEDDIT? You get it. French wordplay.

Peace off 2010!

Posted on January 3rd, 2011 by annakjarzab

Now that I’m back in New York (and what an odyssey that has been! But at least I missed the blizzard), I’m going through my Google Reader and taking a look at the “year in review” posts all the authors I follow have written and feel a bit compelled to write my own, especially since it’s my debut year.

Not to be a huge Debbie Downer, because that’s not how I’m feeling, but 2010 was a pretty difficult year for me. All Unquiet Things was released, which was a wonderful thing. Despite the way I’ve been feeling a bit lately after reading a few negative reviews (NOTE TO AUTHORS: DO NOT READ REVIEWS!), I’m extremely proud of that book. Off and on this year I’ve wondered if it was the right time for me to publish for the first time, but it’s like, I did it, it’s done, moving forward. There are pros and cons, but no matter what, I do love AUT and am happy that people have read and liked it so much! I appreciate all emails from fans and I try to respond to as many as I can–if you’ve written me and I haven’t responded, please write me again! It might just have gotten buried in my Gmail account under about a million discount newsletters.

There were two things that made this year hard for me. One was the very, very sad passing of my grandmother, who I love so much and miss every day. I got an email from my grandmother’s niece, who was very close with my grandmother, after she read AUT; she said that I captured the experience of grief in a very true way. I’m so glad she feels that way, and I hope that other people feel similarly because I was very much trying to show how people process grief differently, but I’m not sure I quite understood what it felt like to grieve for the death of a loved one until this year, and part of me wishes I had the opportunity to go back and re-edit AUT to reflect that, but obviously that’s impossible, and anyway I’m not sure I know what that experience is like from the other side yet so writing about it would be premature and futile.

The other thing that made the year hard was the disasterscript of book two (formerly known as MB). I was entirely lost throughout the five month process of editing it at the beginning of 2010, and then having to accept that it was just not going to get better (and was, in fact, getting WORSE) was a hard pill to swallow. But luckily I had another manuscript up my sleeve, which is receiving a favorable response from my readers and which I’m currently revising, but which is already in pretty good shape. I’m a bit nervous about moving on from here, because my contract will be over when I turn in Hallelujah and I’m interested in writing a bunch of different stuff but not sure exactly what to focus on or what is a good idea for a book and what is just an interesting idea in general. I have a feeling that, in addition to going through the publishing process with Hallelujah this year, the biggest focus for me in my writing career is figuring out where to go from here. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t get as much editing done over the break as I expected; maybe I have a bit of a mental block because I’m afraid to move on, but also anxious to move on, and not sure where that’s going to take me. I used to have a list of books in my head and the order in which I was planning to write them was pretty mcuh set; now that’s completely destroyed and I have to start mostly from scratch. Fun! But also: terrifying.

But a lot of great things happened in 2010, too! Alex Bracken and I became such close friends, and not only has she been a real support through these twelve long months, but also she’s given me the opportunity, through her AMAZING book BLACK IS THE COLOR, to read and contribute to something I really think is going to blow people away. I’m a neverending advocate for that book and cannot WAIT for someone to publish it. I know who I’m hoping the book goes to, but it’s not my decision and really I’ll relish any opportunity to walk into a bookstore and buy a zillion copies, one for every person I know.

I also got into the rhythm of my job; it’s honestly the best job I’ve ever had, and I work with some of the smartest, coolest, funniest people around. I feel blessed to work there and hope to have a really long career there.

So, 2010…a bit of an up and down year. But I’m hoping 2011 will be the beginning of a great period of time in my life and I’m looking forward to each new day. Thank you to everyone who bought, read, reviewed (even negatively), emailed me about, and worked on AUT. I can’t wait for you all to read Hallelujah! I really hope you like it. 🙂