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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.
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Friends

I was here

Posted on November 14th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I’ve been terrible about writing this blog–it’s just that Tumblr is so much easier! There’s not all that agonizing about what to write, you just hit reblog, type up a pithy little comment on whatever LOL cat you happen to be posting, and then go. So simple! (P.S. If you’re looking for me on Tumblr, this is where you should go. I post there, like, five to ten times a day. Also sometimes Twitter. Very rarely Facebook, but Tumblr syndicates there…or it used to, I should probably look into that, or just create an author fan page and abandon the AUT one. There. Done. Sorry it’s lame, I just set it up five seconds ago.)

ANYWAY. What have I been doing in my extended absence from this space? Well, first of all, my best friends got cats:

These two sweethearts are Barney and Marshall, and they belong to Cambria and Nikki. They are j’adorable and I love them, even though Barney’s kind of a jerk and Marshall has crippling social anxiety that makes him hard to snuggle (well, actually, it makes him hard to catch; once you’ve got him, he’s as snuggly as any kitty). It can be sort of hard to tell them apart because, as you can probably see in this picture, they’re practically identical; Marshall is just a little bit bigger, and also if one of them comes up to you, it’s Barney.

This little lady is Lily, and she belongs to Kim. She’s so tiny! Only a few months old. Actually, I think this picture was taken a few weeks ago, so she’s bigger now, but I just met her this weekend for the first time and I can attest that she is still very wee. I could pick her up and toss her around with one hand (The Boys are much bigger, as they’re older). Yes, this means that my best friends have three cats between them that are named for How I Met Your Mother characters. Well, Kim insists Lily was named after Lily Potter, but I like it better my way, except now I guess this means I have to get a cat and name it Ted. Teddy is sort of a sweet name for a cat, don’t you think? I’m not getting a cat, though (don’t worry Mom!). My roommate is allergic and I’m irresponsible.

Hm, what else? Well, I went to London for work and Paris for fun in October, so that was pretty awesome. Other than that, I’ve just been working working working like a maniac, and also trying to get through another draft of Tandem. It’s going okay. I’ve got to rip out a huge chunk of the manuscript to pick up the pace of the first half a little, and while I’m starting to get that, yes, that is the right move, I’m still sort of stressing about where all the material from that section is going to go, because I can’t just delete it wholesale–there’s a lot of important info in there! Sigh. I’m aiming for a January 3 deadline to turn the manuscript back in to Joanna, but we’ll see.

And that brings us up to now. Work is crazy, the holidays are creeping up faster than I would like to acknowledge them (I should really buy a plane ticket to CA), and The Opposite of Hallelujah copy edits loom. Speaking of OoH, I’ve seen a potential cover! Two, actually, but I don’t think the second one is really an option, and I preferred the first one, anyway. I wish I could show it to you, but I have no idea if it’s final yet; suffice it to say that I liked it A LOT and I hope it stays, but I’m also not getting too attached because you never know.

Also, I got new glasses:

 

 

 

Goodbye to all that: The LOST finale

Posted on May 25th, 2010 by annakjarzab

Okay, before last night I’d watched approximately one and a half hours of Lost in total in my life: half the pilot, and an episode maybe a month and a half ago I remember precisely none of. So, obviously, I was the target audience for last night’s finale. Just kidding! Nobody expects punks like me to watch this stuff. OR DO THEY? Because they did air that two hour long recap which I totally watched and made the finale a piece of cake to understand. Seriously. I know it’s the journey and not the destination, you guys, but I felt entirely unconfused by the Lost finale, and I know that some of this is because I don’t have any questions they didn’t answer because I DON’T HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PERIOD, still, you’d think that I’d be like, “Whuh?” a couple of times. But the story is actually very simple, so simple that I was kind of sad for everyone who spent six years obsessing over this show. The secret of the island is that there’s a secret plug that…something? And if you remove it, then…something? And Desmond has to remove it because…some reason? And Jack is the protector of the island because…some other reason? I mean, there just was not a lot of compelling stuff in the island-centric portion of this finale.

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And don’t tell me the plug keeps the Evil at bay–the world is full of evil, duh. That plug in the island isn’t really preventing any murders. And considering that the guy who plays Jacob (the good guy, I guess?) is the guy who plays Lucifer on Supernatural, I’m not really inclined to believe anything he says, anyway. Also, the Man in Black’s name is Esau. Duh, it has to be. They’re not really reinventing the wheel on this one, you guys. So I found all the island shenanigans (I mean, I know duct tape is strong, but can you really repair a commercial airplane with it?) kind of dumb. I know I have no place saying that considering I don’t watch the show, but it didn’t feel very grand or epic to me. Except the very end, with Jack stumbling through the bamboo and finally laying down to die with the dog at his side. I did tear up, I admit.

I did, however, love the revelation of what the flashes sideways were all about. My one question (merely a clarification request) to my friends while we were watching was did the nuclear explosion (now that I’ve had a few hours away from it, I don’t remember WHICH nuclear explosion, maybe the one that killed Juliet?) cause the separation of the dimensions, to which they replied, “Yes.” Which they were obviously wrong about because the sideways world in which the plane did not crash is in fact just a metaphysical ‘tween place where the souls of the dearly departed Losties are working through accepting what they’ve been through and their deaths in order to move on as a group because they’re the most important people in each other’s lives (spoiler, I guess). That was a nice bit of symmetry. It made perfect sense to me, and it allowed die-hard Lost fans to get to see their beloved characters happy after all that they’ve been through. That’s some deft narrative maneuvering that I really loved, and I kind of cried a little. Anyway, I was wholly satisfied by the finale, not that you care. You’re welcome for these very relevant thoughtsicles re: Lost. What would you have done without them?

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Also, this Lost cake is pretty FTW.

Ramble ramble ramble

Posted on August 16th, 2009 by annakjarzab

I know! Where have I been this week? Oh boy, you don’t even want to know. So this post is just going to be a quasi-coherent ramble about almost nothing. Lucky readers!

So first of all, I’ve been writing. I have quite a few pages done in my family drama, over 100 now, which is nice, and I think I know where it’s headed. In fact, maybe I should plot out the second half of the book so that I can just follow along with that and it would get done quicker. Sigh, you know that I won’t. But that’s going well, and I think when it’s done I can really focus on GR, which needs my full, undivided attention to really work well and get somewhere. It’s going to be a long, dark fall.

Also, let me tell you about a couple of Tenner books I read this week. I’ve been so in love with the quality of the Tenner books I’ve read so far–I can be quite critical, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how wonderful these books are. For instance, Suzanne Young’s The Naughty List. SO! AWESOME! I’ve been describing it to people as Bring it On meets Clueless meets Veronica Mars. The main character has a very unique voice, and she’s just so fun. Plus, I could not figure out where Suz was going to take the story. I knew what I wanted to happen, but I just couldn’t be sure if that was going to happen or not. I was kind of right. At least, my suspicions about a certain character were proven correct in the end–I never trusted this person, and I was right not to! That was a relief. I loved The Naughty List, and I’m excited for the sequel.

I also read Jennifer Hubbard’s The Secret Year. It was exactly the kind of book I like, exactly the sort of narrator I love and get invested in, and you’ll see why in January. It’s a slim novel, but it’s emotional and affective and poignant. I think people will really like it. Now I’m reading Brightly Woven; I couldn’t wait till I got the ARC through the Tenner tour, so Alex and I agreed to swap ARCs at dinner last night. I started reading on the train ride home and stayed up till 4 AM reading. I’m a third of the way in and love it so far. Alex and I had a long talk about a lot of things last night, but one of the things we talked about was how we don’t like empty or “perfect” characters–we’d much rather write characters who have moods, who make poor decisions based on their own convictions, who can be difficult and a pain in the ass at times.

We just think that when you get to know and love a character like that, it’s so much more rewarding. In one way or another, all of my MCs have what my mother would call “a bad attitude” about something. Sometimes you get it, because they’ve been through something traumatic or been betrayed or lost their sense of self, but sometimes (I’d say one out of every two MCs I write is like this) it’s just because they’re regular people, and regular people are sometimes spoiled or snobby or bratty. It doesn’t make them bad, it just makes them human. And I think that’s interesting. What’s more interesting is charting their progress, through a series of events, from spoiled/bratty/snobby to much more enlightened, understanding, empathetic people. That’s what most of my books are about, at the core of it–learning how to see people for who they really are, and loving them for it.

Just as a side-note, let me introduce you to my new computer background:

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Yeeeeeeah! Who’s excited for the return of Gossip Girl? That’d be me, for defs.

So yeah, okay, I’ve been writing this week and reading this week and working this week. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and hanging out with my friends. Did I tell you guys my friend Kim is moving to New York? Long Island, really, to work at a university out there, but that’s so close! I don’t know how I got so lucky, having my three best friends in the world all live in New York. I keep thinking that I’ll wake up and be in my bedroom at my parents’ house, working at Thomson, with all my friends in SoCal and only my parents and dog for company. These past few years have been such an incredible whirlwind of good and bad, and I’m finally beginning to think it’s not going to disappear if I close my eyes.

Write on

Posted on July 29th, 2009 by annakjarzab

I realize that it’s been a while since I talked about my current works in progress, and that’s probably because I’m a little bit stalled. I’m not panicking, because A.) it is fruitless and B.) I don’t expect to be stalled much longer. I think what’s been happening is that between all the traveling to California, weddings, graduations, friend and family visits, trivia, work and work-related shenanigans, and putting the finishing touches on AUT, plus life maintenance such as grocery shopping and laundry (el oh el as if I’ve done laundry) and assorted errands, I just haven’t had the time, and when I’ve had the time I haven’t had the energy, to write.

I also realize that I meant to put up a post about my trip to California in June, when I visited the semi-ghost towns up near Sacramento, and I never did that. Now would be a good time, I think, considering that it was all research for GR.

Here’s the thing about my writing this summer. I have about three projects that I’m actively thinking about/working on, albeit in the small spurts that I’ve been able to fit in to my schedule. One is “big”, in the sense that it’s probably going to be on the long-ish side (and considering that my YA debut is going to be 352 pages, you might want to adjust your definition of “long-ish” in this situation), and that it’s what I’m calling a quasi-post-apocalyptic pseudo-mystery. It’s sort of a thriller, too. It’s crazytown, basically, and I’ve been referring to it as GR.

Then there are two “smaller” books in that they are going to be shorter (probably shorter than AUT, although maybe not, who knows). One of them is a family-type drama, and one of them is a comedy (by my definition, at least–you should know that I consider MB a comedy, and it’s about a boy who goes missing and has the word “murder” in the title, so…). The family-type drama doesn’t have a name (well, I have one for it, but it’s ridiculous and I’m a little embarrassed of it, so here I will call it “Fluffy”), and the comedy has a tentative name that is pretty boring so here I will call it “Lancelot.” I probably won’t be talking about either of these much, to be honest, because they’re not that hard, they just require time at the computer and a steady hand.

GR, however, is the bane of my existence. There are these moments in writing where you know what you want the end product to look like, and you know what you have so far, and there is such a huge gulf between those two things that you think you’ll never get across it. It’s so discouraging. Right now, I’m 80 pages into GR and just verging on the start of the action, which is a PROBLEM, and also the story itself is losing steam. I had a hard time building an outline for GR, so I decided to write up to the point where my outline stopped and then try again, because I have beats I want to hit, ideas for scenes, the end, and a good grasp of the character arcs, but I don’t have a sure-fire plan as such. This morning I think I might have thought of a way to accelerate the action, and some pieces seem to have fallen into place because of that, so that’s good progress. I have a long weekend starting tomorrow, so I should be able to get at least some serious thinking done, if not any actual work.

But whatever! Vacation pictures. For whatever reason I’m pretty protective of GR, so while these pictures and explanations might give you an idea of what I’m doing with it, I’m not going to be explicit about how the places and things I show fit into the story–you’ll just have to guess. And wait.

Okay, so first of all, this is apropos of nothing, but my sister graduated from high school:

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Fun facts: the last time I was sitting in that pavilion (at the Alameda County Fairgrounds) I was there to see a Björn Again concert. True story! Also, that blue dress I’m wearing, I wore that to every single event this summer: two weddings, two graduations, plus a bonus BEA! It’s getting a workout, but it’s cute so that’s okay.

Earlier that day, my mom and I had gone to the Winchester Mystery House, for my research purposes. I took so many pictures and videos that I can’t possibly post them all here, but trust me, this place is awesome. This was my third time going, and I had just as much fun as I did the first time. We took the big tour, which is the Mansion Tour plus the Behind the Scenes tour, plus the Garden Tour, although that’s free and self-guided. The only thing we didn’t do was the Winchester Firearms Museum, which I plan to go back and do over Christmas. If you’re ever in the Bay Area, believe me, the Winchester Mystery House is totally worth it and fun for the whole family.

BUT: It is not scary. You should see the billboards that are up on all the freeways in Northern California, they’ve got, like, skulls and crossbones on them and give you the impression that the WMH is a haunted house, but it’s not. They’ve got their ghost stories, of course, all old houses have them, but for the most part it’s just a really weird place. Sarah Winchester moved west from Connecticut in 1884, after the death of her only child, Annie, in infancy and her husband from tuberculosis. Back then, San Jose was a total farming community, so she purchased 162 acres of land, most of which was orchards, and an eight-room farmhouse, which she built upon for the next 38 years–twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to the tune of $5.5 million, which in today’s money would be about $70 million. ON A HOUSE. A house that was worthless after she died, because the eccentricity and, in some ways, impracticality of its design, its size, and the massive amounts of money it cost to keep it up made it unlivable for anyone who wasn’t Sarah Winchester. And even SHE had other homes.

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The house from the front, facing Winchester Blvd.

Now, there are all sorts of stories about what Sarah Winchester did or didn’t believe, why she built the house the way she did, who she was, etc., but the truth was that she was very private and left behind no written account of her intentions with regards to the house–no letters, no journals, not even blueprints. They say she moved to San Jose because a medium in Boston told her to. Supposedly she believed herself to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester rifle, and the Boston medium told her that if she were to go west and build a house without ceasing, she would never die. Sarah could afford to do this because she was, like, a gazillionaire. Truly. She inherited $20 million after the death of her husband–and this was before there was income tax, so she got to keep it all–and 50% ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms company, which provided a $1,000 a day allowance. That’s still a lot of money! Back then it was a huge fortune.

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Stairs to the ceiling

Anyway, so she built this house, all day, every day, for almost forty years. She did eventually die, though, because obviously eternal life is bullshit. The house is crazytown because there are no blueprints and never were–she used to sketch out plans for rooms on napkins and scraps of paper and just hand them to her foreman. That’s why the place is a virtual maze, with stairways that lead to ceilings, cabinets that are one inch deep, chimneys that stop a foot before the roof, winding corridors, six kitchens, thirteen bathrooms, two basements, forty-seven fireplaces, and much more.

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The Room Where Mrs. Winchester Died, or the Deadroom

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A door leading out from the seance room–into the kitchen sink, a flight below.

Okay, like all good rich Victorian ladies, Sarah Winchester was something of a spiritualist, purportedly anyway. She had an interest in contacting the dead, which is understandable given the losses she suffered, and had a seance room built in her house for expressly that purpose, but there’s really no proof that she ever actually had seances in there. It’s kind of small. It does, however, have that weird door that leads to nothing but a short drop and a sudden stop, if you will. There’s a lot of things like that in the house. I don’t know what happened to the photos I took of the seance room, that one seems to be the only one I have at the moment. Hm.

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The north conservatory

The thing about Mrs. Winchester was that she was also something of a tech buff. I mean, she didn’t have an iPod or anything (although Apple’s headquarters aren’t very far away from the Mystery House–COINCIDENCE?! Definitely), but she liked cutting edge stuff. The conservatory pictured above has a slanted floor made of removable wood panels; when the wood is taken off, there is a second floor made of some kind of metal (tin?). This allows the plants to be watered and the unused water to fall to the floor, where it flows down the slant and into a container to be used again, in the conservatory or elsewhere. Go green! The conservatory also has an elevator, one of three on the property, which, as you might imagine, is a bit unusual for the Victorian age.

Other conveniences include steam and forced-air heating, indoor toilets and plumbing (including a hot shower), push-button gas lights, and a call system that allowed Mrs. Winchester to summon her servants to any part of the mansion from any part of the mansion. Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

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So you know how before I was mentioning that Mrs. Winchester would just build a room on to the existing exterior wall? Well, here’s proof. This is the unfinished second ballroom (Second! Ballroom! Because she needed two! To entertain the guests she didn’t even have!)–the walls hadn’t gone up at the time of her death–and you can see how the walls of the ballroom were being built right smack up against the outside, covering up a window and the old paint job and everything. This is one of the reasons why the house is so freakin’ weird. It’s also one of the reasons it survived (for the most part) two extreme earthquakes, because half of it is built on a de facto floating foundation, because all the rooms were built separately. That provided enough sway for the house to stay upright. Science!

Speaking of ballrooms, here’s the finished one:

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Okay, this room is the best. First of all, it was built almost completely without nails. Second of all, it has a vault in it, hidden behind a wooden door, so heavy that it required its own foundation–and when it was opened upon Mrs. Winchester’s death, it was found to contain locks of hair from her daughter and husband, and their obituaries. That’s it. The silver chandelier came from Germany, with twelve candle holders. Mrs. Winchester, who was rumored to have a superstition about the number thirteen and scattered the number around the house (the thirteenth bathroom has thirteen windows in it, for example), had a thirteenth candle holder added. It looks terrible; as you can see in this larger picture, it’s lopsided. WHOOPS!

The stained glass windows each have a quote from a Shakespeare play on them. “Wide unclasp the the tables of their thoughts,” says the left-hand window (Troilus and Cressida, IV:5:60); “These same thoughts people this little world,” says the right-hand window (Richard III, V:5:9). What did they mean to Mrs. Winchester? Hell if I know. But they must have meant something to her. This guy has a theory, though, and it makes sense to me.

The grand ballroom cost $9,000 at a time when a whole house could be built for >$1,000. This was the point when my mom shook her head and said, “If she had to spend all of that money, why didn’t she just give it to charity?” The answer, of course, is that she did–she gave lots of her money away. But my mom has a point. What a colossal waste, and furthermore, if she really did believe building forever would make her live forever, what complete selfishness. HOWEVER. Now the house belongs to posterity, and we can walk through it and marvel at it and deconstruct it as a physical expression of one person’s psychology, and that is amazing.

Okay, I could show you a million more pictures and talk forever about this house, because it’s the coolest, but I won’t. As it is this post is super long; I’ll do another installment to talk about the semi-ghost towns we visited.

Grist for the Gossip Girl mill, these outfits

Posted on May 23rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

Ladies, let’s talk.

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You look ridiculous.

Even you, Waldorf. You’re still by far my favorite, but what is that you’re wearing? It looks like a Special Agent Dana Scully cast-off from seasons one or two–season two! THAT’S HOW BAD IT IS–but sans pants. I can’t decide whether or not it would be worse if I found out you were wearing *gag* formal shorts underneath it. And those shoes, let’s face it, could kill someone. There is a reason why stilettos take their name from a type of dagger–a stabbing weapon, says Wikipedia. Your hair looks cute, though.

Abrams, let’s not front–you’re orange. And your hair looks like a badly kempt weave. Your dress is sorta cute, and so are your shoes, but your eyes are not focusing properly and we all know what that means! Dipping into Chuck Bass’ stash? You and Lily van der Woodsen Bart soon-to-be-Humphrey *barf* both. Shut it down. Set an example for little Jenny Humphrey.

Oh, wait, too late. Let’s review, Little J. Your hair is absurd, and has been for almost an entire season now. That is a mullet. I don’t care what you think it is, it is a mullet pure and simple–there is some business in the front and some party in the back, but it’s not a fun party.  Also, I did not know they made leather pajama bottoms with footsies. I see you cut the front part off of the footsies so that you could wear some pretty boring shoes. Good call. (Terrible call.) I know you’re going for the partially-dead, aloof look here, but mostly you look like a bitch. Wipe that snarl off your face. I don’t even know where to start with that shirt. Perhaps I’ll mention that it’s see-through? Okay, it’s see-through. And partially unbuttoned. And sort of off-kilter. And your black bra is showing. And a rosary is not jewelry. Have I covered everything? Oh, that shade of lipstick washes you out so much. Please stop wearing it ASAP.

SERENA VAN DER WOODSEN. A jumper? A JUMPER WITH SHORTS? I know you’re fashion-forward and have–how do I say this without being rude?–an eclectic style, but come on! The only thing I endorse about your outfit is the color. I love blue. At first I thought you’d gone barefoot, which would make sense considering you’re channeling your five-year-old self with that JUMPER, but no. Those are shoes the color of your skin. Whoops! Next time, turn the light on in the closet. Also, your hair looks cute, but it looks like you’re about to fall over drunk, and I, being Mother Superior, strongly diaspprove of imbibing before photo ops. Remember the term “drunk face” (college vocab word) and avoid it at all costs.

I want you to be happy

Posted on May 3rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

Yesterday, my friend Carmen, who I’ve been close friends with for eight years now, got married to her boyfriend of five years, Tim. I’m dumb, because everything went so quickly I barely took any photos–Mel took frillions, I think, so I’ll be okay on this front, but I don’t remember posing for a photo with Carmen and Tim or anything. Le sigh. Oh well. I’ll never forget how gorgeous Carmen looked in her dress, or the way Tim looked when he saw her walking down the aisle. They’re a wonderful couple and they deserve all the best.

I haven’t been to a lot of weddings, but it’s my impression that lots of people, when choosing their readings, go for 1 Corinthians 13. You know, “Love is patient, love is kind…” I don’t blame them, because that’s a great passage, and perfect for weddings. But Carmen and Tim chose Philippians 4:4-9, which the Internet is telling me is different than what they read, but at the wedding yesterday it went something like this. “I want you to be happy; always happy in the Lord. I repeat: what I want is your happiness.” I just loved that. It really brings home to me the reason people enter into and stay in relationships for their entire lives, or rather what makes it possible for people to stay together forever. Because love is patient, and love is kind, but many times we as people are not patient or especially kind. What is important to remember about marriage is that when you make those vows you’re promising to live in service of the other person, to sometimes sacrifice your own happiness for theirs, and they in turn promise to do the same for you. Balance and compromise without resentment are the key to making relationships work, I think. I don’t know, I’m no expert, but it makes sense to me. Living in the service of someone else’s happiness–and having them live in the service of yours–seems both liberating and difficult to me. I’m sure Carmen and Tim will rise to the occasion admirably, as they’ve been doing for years unmarried.

The wedding was fun, although, like I said, a whirlwind. I think I might’ve stepped on broken glass (I didn’t get hurt or anything, but I do remember that) and slipped on the dance floor because someone spilled a drink. I knew I was going to fall–I predicted it when I was talking to my mom earlier that day. Oh well, it was towards the end of the night and it was dark and I don’t think anyone saw. I got a little maudlin towards the end, as one tends to do at weddings, so thanks to Jackie and Shannel for putting up with that!

People kept telling me how nice it was of me to come all the way from New York for a wedding and I was kind of taken aback, like, obviously I would. Carmen and Tim are a couple I championed from day 1, plus Carmen’s one of my best friends, there’s no way I wouldn’t come. I got to see a lot of people I literally haven’t set eyes on since graduation. I wonder if I can write off some of the travel as a research expense, because I talked to the best man, Mike, about his hometown, Rescue, CA, which inspired the setting of my third book, GR, as I mentioned before. It was knowing Mike in the first place that even brought the little town to my attention, and I’d always wanted to write about it, so here we go. This summer will be all about GR and MB (revisions, I’m sure, are forthcoming).

Being back at Santa Clara also made me think about college. High school isn’t the best years of your life, and certainly college doesn’t have to be. It would make me sad to think that people are going around loving college and then leaving it and never being that happy again and thinking that’s normal. But I will say that college can be a blast, and should be. For those teens just going off to college this coming fall, enjoy it. Have fun. Be smart and safe. Join organizations and meet tons and tons of people. Especially if you want to write. You should laugh a lot and accept that you’ll make some mistakes. Don’t take more eight AM classes than is absolutely necessary. Take a lot of pictures. Try to stay in touch but also know that some people fall off the face of the planet and that’s okay, too.

My thoughts are sort of scattered right now and coming out in bursts because I’m tired and I have to get on a plane back to New York in a few hours, but I’m so glad I came. I wish it hadn’t gone so fast and that I’d taken more pictures, but I’m happy to have seen everyone and to have celebrated Carmen and Tim’s marriage and I’m feeling a healthy amount of yearning for the life I left behind when I graduated. I’m happier now, but I sure was happy then.

ETA: I had the craziest dream last night! I was hanging out with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner in New York. It felt very realistic, which always sort of creeps me out, when dreams so closely approximate real life that it’s difficult to separate them from it. So weird!

California Dreamin’

Posted on April 28th, 2009 by annakjarzab

One of my weekly rituals here in New York is Wednesday night pub trivia. I’m not very good at it, but trivia has a really important place in my life here–it’s where I met most of my close friends in New York, and it’s at least one time a week when I can count on seeing most, if not all, of them. We’ve become tight with the bartenders, and the whole place feels so homey to me–it’s quite a touchstone for my life here.

Anyway, my friend Tony, who runs Wednesday trivia with his cohost Janet, started a new trivia night at a different bar and decided to have a rotating stable of cohosts, each delivering one round of questions per week. Last night, I was that cohost. I’ve been bugging Tony to let me cohost trivia for about nine months now, conveniently forgetting that I hate public speaking of all kinds and that I have trouble reading things aloud in front of people. I should be a joy to behold at readings and signings come January, you guys! So when Tony scheduled me, I was excited, until a few days ago, when I realized how anxious I was about all of it. Whoops.

But, you know, it’s good practice, and it went totally fine, although I did read too fast for a while as I am apt to do and there were only three teams who showed up this week. Ah well, can’t be perfect, and because there were only three teams my team won third place, so, silver lining. Tony did say that the questions I wrote were great and required almost no surgery from him, which was a nice compliment. Now I’m a little hooked on the experience and I! WANT! TO! DO! IT! AGAIN! Tony said I could in late July, so get excited for that, New Yorkers.

For fun I thought I’d post my questions (the theme of the round was California Dreamin’, although I was too afraid to say something so cheesy on stage so I just told them the theme of the round was California). I’ll put the answers in white below the questions. Let me know how many you get right!

1. Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill was founded in 1983 in San Diego after Ralph Rubio brought what local dish home from Baja California?
A: The fish taco.

2. Speaking of Baja California, the northernmost Mexican state is bordered by two bodies of water—the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Gulf of California to the east. What is the other name for the Gulf of California?
A: The Sea of Cortez

3. As of 2005, there are ten campuses in the University of California public university system, and they all share a school motto, Fiat lux. What does Fiat lux mean in English?
A: Let There Be Light

4. In San Jose, CA there stands a late Victorian mansion that features 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, two ballrooms, cost an estimated $70 million in 2008 dollars, and requires 20,000 gallons of paint every time it is repainted. This house was built by the president of what gun manufacturing company’s eccentric widow?
A: Winchester

5. What other state besides California has elected a governor from the cast of Predator?
A: Minnesota

6. Because he’s so down with what the kids are doing these days, how did San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announce his 2010 candidacy for Governor of California?
A: Via Twitter

7. The USC Trojan Marching Band was featured on a hit song that went up to #8 on the Billboard charts, and it’s still played at SC football games today. Give me the song and the band who released it.
A: Fleetwood Mac, “Tusk”

8. Los Angeles is a big sports city. Everyone knows that the Dodgers play baseball, the Lakers play basketball, and the Kings play hockey, but what sport did the Los Angeles Riptide play before they were shut down this year because of the financial crisis?
A: Lacrosse

9. What is the largest city in California not to be serviced by an Interstate freeway?
A: Fresno

10. What famous American model, credited with popularizing the naval piercing and currently married to actor/writer/director Ed Burns, was born in Walnut Creek, CA in 1969?
A: Christy Turlington

Cue head exploding

Posted on April 1st, 2009 by annakjarzab

Have you ever had so much go on within a short span of time that you feel like your head is just going to pop like a party balloon? That’s how I feel right now. Don’t worry, I’m self-medicating with some Chinese food. I’m on top of this.

Yesterday and this morning involved a lot of back and forth over jacket flap copy for AUT, which is exciting but also nerve-wracking. Has anyone else noticed that it’s really hard to describe your own book? As the person who spent six years writing it, I feel like everything is important, and I don’t know how to boil it down to the essentials without frying all my circuits. Thank God for agents and editors, right? I’m so tired.

That might have a little to do with being out so late last night, though. One of the reasons I’m super lucky to be living in New York is that I have so many good friends here, and they’re all cool and interesting and into a hundred different things. I’ve managed over the course of a few months to pick up several guy friends who are amateur stand-up comedians, but until last night I’d never seen any of them up on stage. Me, Cambria and Nikki headed over to Gotham after work (short pit stop at Dallas BBQ for margaritas and chicken fingers, OBVS, as it’s right there) and were able to see our friends David and Brian (both incredibly funny) perform. There were a lot of funny people, and it was nice to see some lady comics, because when Bri and I went to Gutbucket a few weeks ago there was only one and she was…fine.

Speaking of Gutbucket, one of my favorite comics from that show performed at Gotham last night. His name is Luke Cunningham and I think he’s hilarious, that’s all.

Afterwards we went to Trailer Park, which is just down the street. It’s a kitschy little bar made up to resemble (what else?) a trailer park. I personally think it’s a little too expensive to live up to its name ($5 PBR? That’s highway robbery, that is) but the atmosphere is pretty great and the tater tots are to die for. We hung around with David, Brian, and a bunch of other comedians after the show, including one of the ladies, who I’m pretty sure I gave some material to, although quite honestly it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before on Sex and the City, so whatevs. MD also joined us after her date, bringing the party as always.

I got home around midnight, but then of course stayed up until one to finish Wintergirls, which is so wonderful and traumatizing. Some people don’t like sad, emotionally eviscerating books, but those are my favorite kinds, and Wintergirls is the perfect example. In short, I loved it, Laurie Halse Anderson is a rock star.

Shout out!

Posted on January 23rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to my very very very good friend Kim, who recently started a new blog and is looking for readers! (Yes, this is a blatant request for people to read her blog because I love her and she is awesome. So what?) Kim often talks about cooking and books and movies and television, so if that’s your thing, head on over. Like I said, she’s pretty awesome.

‘Stache of the day!

Posted on January 9th, 2009 by Anna Jarzab

Okay, so a few days ago I promised to put up pictures from the mustache party if/when I ever got them. Well, I’ve got them. And now I’m regretting that promise. As a compromise, I’m posting select photos from this event. If you’re wondering why none of us are smiling in the pictures, it’s because the adhesive on the ‘staches made it difficult and we all just decided to be Van Damme about it. Also, if you’re wondering what my father looks like…well, look at me in the pictures and subtract the long hair. Actually, this goes for all my friends. We all ended up looking like our dads with those things on.

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You’re welcome. The more I look at these photos, the more hideous I am to myself. I was not born to sport facial hair. Sigh. Oh well. It was funny.