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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

A night at the movies

Posted on December 20th, 2010 by annakjarzab

Ever since I heard about Black Swan I’ve wanted to see it, but I didn’t think anyone would go with me. That’s fine, because I don’t mind seeing movies alone, but I do find it hard to get motivated and usually just wait until they come out on DVD. But lo and behold, my friend Nikki wanted to see it too, so last night we went to the Lincoln Plaza theaters to watch it.

Okay, a few words about the Lincoln Plaza theaters. They’re on 64th and Broadway, right across from Lincoln Center, where the New York City Ballet, School of American Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the Julliard School, among others, live and perform. It’s an indie/revival theater (I mean, for instance, there were signs on the ticket booth windows for Shoah, which was being shown in two sittings with a fifteen intermission) with a downscale look and lots of upscale clientele (ladies in minks, basically).

So you would think that people would know how to conduct themselves like civilized human beings! But that is not so. Lincoln Plaza has a couple of theaters, but none the size of those sprawling ones at the AMC up the street–these are small, intimate theaters with normal sized screens and about two hundred and fifty seats or whatever. Even though they were showing Black Swan about 10 times that day, our theater still filled up very quickly and space was limited. Nikki and I were early enough to get seats with no problem. The first indication that this was perhaps not the moviegoing experience we were hoping for was when a woman, trying to get to her seat on the other side of me, charged past me flinging her coat and bag and knocked our bucket of popcorn over so that half of it spilled right down the front of my sweater.

Then–oh, then. Just as the lights were going down and the previews started rolling, these two girls in puffy jackets entered the row about three rows in front of us, intending to sit in two empty seats in the center. The woman who was sitting next to the empty seats told them no, that she was saving them for people. The girls insisted that there were no other seats in the theater, that they had purchased tickets and were entitled to sit in the seats, which were not currently occupied by anyone. Now, if me and my friends had been the girls, we would’ve just said, “Okay, the seats are taken, let’s figure something else out” and walked away. But this was, as Nikki said, the perfect storm of two aggressive groups of people who would just not back down. The woman who was saving the seats stood up and began screaming at the girls that they couldn’t have the seats, her friends’ coats and bags were on them, etc. The girls shot back that the movie was starting and her friends weren’t there–thus, the seats were up for grabs and they were taking them.

The girls sat down in the empty seats and the woman yelled at them as she grabbed her friends’ things off them. She would not shut up about it, and when the man sitting behind her leaned forward and asked her to please shut up, she said, “Don’t you tell me what to do! And don’t you touch me! Don’t you touch me!” He wasn’t touching her that I could see.

A minute or so passed, and finally these supposed friends came barrelling down the right aisle. The woman loudly announced to them–while the movie was actually starting–that the girls had taken the seats, and one of the newly arrived friends cried, “Oh no they are not sitting in our seats! That is so disrespectful!” Let us not forget that at the moment this was happening, Natalie Portman was literally dancing on the screen–the movie was playing! And who is being disrespectful? TO EVERYONE ELSE IN THE THEATER. This latecomer charged through the aisle and, under the pretense of “looking for her coat”, which her friend had already removed from the seat, actually physically pushed the girl who was sitting in the seat out of the seat and proceeded to sit down in it!

Eventually the girls gave up and left (after being physically ejected from the seats, what more was there for them to do than to start a fight, which even they were smart enough to know was a bad idea) and I have no idea what happened to them. There were some half-hearted threats of calling the cops, which would’ve been the dumbest think in the history of the world–and note that not once during this whole fracas did the people who actually administrate the theater come in to intervene.

But that wasn’t the only rude/bizarre bit of behavior we saw (just the most entertaining and dramatic). In the middle of the movie, this girl a row in front of me and a few seats to the right was texting and the girl sitting behind her kept punching the back of her chair to get her to stop texting! I was appalled. I mean, yes, the light from the phone was annoying, and what are you doing texting during a movie–not just texting, but, like, surfing the Internet?–but it wasn’t in any way distracting from my enjoyment of the movie. It was no reason for the woman behind her to punch her chair repeatedly until she stopped!

Long-winded story, I know, but I just could not believe the nerve of some people. This is a nice part of town, in a movie theater; it’s not the freaking roller derby! Behave yourselves! New Yorkers have a reputation of being a little rough around the edges, but in my experience most people are pretty nice, or at the very least completely apathetic. I’m not surprised to see people pick a fight in a theater, but yet I am, if that makes any sense. Is it weird that I expect adults to behave like adults and not like monsters?

Happy Christmas everybody! Oh, and if you were wondering what I thought of Black Swan–that shit be weird. Maybe I’ll post about it later in the week. I need to process.

Lost in space

Posted on August 9th, 2010 by annakjarzab

Sometime this week I’m going to have to write a post about my weekend with my parents in D.C., which was superfun. Did you know that D.C. is, like, the cleanest city ever? Well, the cleanest but for Vancouver. You can probably eat off the sidewalks in Vancouver, or at least that was my impression when I last visited (in, um, 2005). I remember walking into a 7-11 in Vancouver (in search of booze, which it turns out they don’t really have in 7-11s in Vancouver) and thinking, “This is the cleanest 7-11 I’ve ever seen. It’s so sterile you could perform surgery in here.” Also, ketchup flavored potato chips! Which I must confess, ketchup fiend though I am, I never had the temerity to try.

Anyway, when you live in New York, which is, truth be told, one huge garbage dump with a population of 10 million (not pulling any punches today!), you learn to appreciate walking down the street without being assaulted by the smell of trash rotting in the sun. Somehow, it makes the heat and humidity a little easier to withstand.

But enough with the whining! Those who follow my Tumblr might have noticed that I’ve been posting a little about How the Universe Got Its Spots by Janna Levin. Janna Levin is an astrophysicist/cosmologist, and How the Universe Got Its Spots is a popular science book (by which I mean that is a book about science written for regular-type people and not astrophysicists) she wrote in the form of letters to her mother in which she attempts to explain, in the simplest ways possible, what she does for a living. Levin does a lot of research in the field of topology, which is the study of the shape of the universe. But you can’t just go from, “Dear Mom” to “This is what topology is” because topology is actually quite complex for your average non-physicist, so most of the book is dedicated to teaching the reader about the fundamental tenets of space and time (and spacetime), and in some respects the history of how we came to know what we think we know about space and time (in essence: first there were the ancients, then there was Copernicus, then there was Newton, then there was Einsten, and then after Einstein there were lots of other people, and all of those great minds together gave us the fuzzy, albeit logical, picture we have of where the universe came from, where it’s going, how it operates, and how it continues to flummox us).

This was my second time tackling How the Universe Got Its Spots. It’s not that long–in fact, less than 250 pages. But even though Levin does a good job of talking the reader through Newtonian physics and Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity, the actual field of her research–topology–is too complex for my puny little nerd brain. I want to understand it, and I lectured at my roommate last night in a feeble attempt to understand it (talking through things is the best way I know of to understand them), but I know that my grasp on the concept (on many of the concepts, actually) is weak and transitory at best. Levin lost me this time at precisely the point where she lost me the last time. My goal in reading Levin’s book, and in reading Brian Green’s The Fabric of the Cosmos, which I also eventually abandoned because I just cannot grasp string theory, is to remember Einstein’s theories of relativity and the concept of spacetime, and to remember that cosmic background radiation, the echo of the Big Bang, exists, because this is all very important to my understanding of what I’m trying to do with the book I’m working on now.

And wouldn’t you know it? I sat down last night to watch the episode of The Universe I’d taped and guess what? It was a two-hour special all about The Big Bang. It dovetailed perfectly with How the Universe Got Its Spots, so I sat down and gobbled the whole thing up. I got dorkily excited when they started going over the same things Levin had brought up (Newton, Einstein, cosmic background radiation) and not only did I KNOW WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT, but I could articulate the points relatively well given the fact that I am, in fact, a moron.

I am totally, totally into space, as you may have noticed. I have been since I was a child. I even went to Space Camp back when it was a thing that you could really do! Or whatever, you can still go to Space Camp, but not in Florida, which was the coolest Space Camp, not least because of its proximity to Disney World. The first time I ever tasted Dippin’ Dots was at Space Camp (they called them Space Dots, which lead me to believe that NASA had invented them–FALSE). We even got to watch the launch of the Mars Global Surveyor at Cape Canaveral from the roof of the Space Camp dorms. It turns out that a lot of people are totally into space, including my roommate, which is why this weekend we’re taking what will be my first trip to the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, which is conveniently located right in my neighborhood (er, sort of–if you have a slightly flexible definition of “neighborhood”). So excited! I’ll let you know how it goes, maybe even Tumbl a few pics.

Sunday funday

Posted on July 11th, 2010 by annakjarzab

One of the best things about working in publishing is summer Fridays, that beautiful tradition in which we work an extra forty-five minutes Monday-Thursday (which is sort of LOL because I usually work until about 6 PM or later no matter what time of year it is, so I barely notice) and then get to leave at 12:30 (or 12:45 or 1, depending on which house you work at, but mine is 12:30) on Fridays. My boss is very adamant that we take advantage of summer Fridays, so I do often leave at 12:30 or 1, and it makes the weekend feel super long. By the time Sunday rolls around, it feels like getting away with something.

So I’m sitting here on my bed right now with my computer in my lap, trying to figure out how to spend my Sunday. I could go watch the World Cup final with some buddies, but I’m still recovering from the swanky cocktail party I went to last night with those same buddies, and I’m not so sure I can take it. Also, I have much to do to prepare for my trip to California!

Have I mentioned I’m going to California? Next week! I’m going home! I’m so excited. I need a break like whoa. I’m super tired and the New York heat wave is making me cranky (I’m sure these are connected; I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over a week). Plus, I’m going to get to see some old friends I haven’t seen in over a year (I think? Shannel, confirm?), and spend some much needed time with my family outside the shadow of my grandmother’s death. I really want to go to Filoli with my mom. It’s right up her alley, so much so that I can’t believe we’ve never been there before. My parents have always been very in to dragging us kids around to national parks and museums and weird old houses. One of my favorites, which I continue to remember vividly, is the Helmcken House in Victoria, B.C., which I thought was awesome because the tour was self-guided via audio tapes where the house “talked” to you about itself.

Anyway, Filoli is this mansion in Woodside, CA that has extensive gardens and beautiful architecture. I’d never heard of it until I read about it in Smithsonian a couple months ago. My first thought was, “Mom will really dig this.” So hopefully we can go.

I will probably spend my Sunday doing laundry in prep for my trip (I leave on Wednesday), cleaning my apartment, and figuring out what books I’m going to bring with me. Which is always my favorite part of any trip. I have so much good stuff on my hands, I can’t really figure out what I want to read first. My Kindle is already stocked with manuscripts for work, and hopefully I’ll make my way through some of those, but I also have Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the sequel to Beautiful Creatures, which I LOVED; Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund, sequel to Rampant; Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto, my U of C thesis adviser; Counting My Chickens: And Other Home Thoughts by Deborah Devonshire*; Apologize, Apologize by Elizabeth Kelly, which is my book club book for next month; and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, which I’m reading right now. I really shouldn’t bring all of them with me, because I will probably end up reading none of them anyway. I do this all the time. I bring a ton of books with me, and then spend the whole time I’m on the planes sleeping or working on my own stuff. Decisions, decisions.

*I feel like this one needs a little explanation. I’m sort of mildly obsessed with the Mitford sisters, and I own several books about or by them. My friend Cambria gave me this one about a month or so ago. Debo is my second favorite Mitford, so I’m looking forward to reading it.


Posted on August 10th, 2009 by annakjarzab

What follows is a typical FAIL story from yours truly.

Tha Dubbs has a really nice apartment in Hell’s Kitchen that came with its very own private garden. Dubbs finally got the key to that garden a few weeks ago, and she invited us all over for happy hour on Friday. I was atypically late to this social gathering, and I ended up arriving right at dusk, which is when the garden closes. So I was there a grand total of five minutes before we moved the party upstairs to their apartment.

As I discovered Saturday morning, in the few minutes I was in the garden with the rest of the crew, I managed to get about 20,000 mosquito bites on my legs (I was wearing a skirt). It is so awful, you guys! I’m so itchy and miserable, and nothing is helping. They’re all over my legs and feet, these huge welts that make me want to cry.

Yesterday I wore pants, which exacerbated the itchiness, so today I wore a skirt to save myself from some of the discomfort. I had brunch with the totally awesome Alex Bracken, author of the sure-to-be-wonderful Brightly Woven (I haven’t read it yet, but can’t wait to), and then headed to my best friend’s apartment to hang out before another appointment later in the afternoon.

Bri was hungry, so I accompanied her to Shake Shack, and we sat on a bench outside the Museum of Natural History while she ate her food. While we were sitting there, this woman came up to me and offered some typical New Yorker unsolicited advice.

“I noticed your legs,” she said to me, a strange blank crazy-eyed look on her face. “I had a rash just like that.”

“Actually,” I said, completely taken aback and also WTF, “they’re mosquito bites.”

“Oh,” she said. “Well, when I had the rash I used athlete’s foot cream on my legs and it went away.”

“Um, thanks,” I said. “But I was just sitting in a garden the other day and got really bitten up…it’s not a rash.”

“Okay, letting you know,” she said, walking away.

“Thanks!” I called, because I was raised in the Midwest, damnit, and we’re polite in the Great Lakes states. Thanks, Professor Skin Rashes. I’m not worried, because you’re on the case!

I’m having a bit of a crisis, because I bought an adorable skirt on sale at the Gap yesterday and I was going to wear it to work (there’s also this problem where I can only wear a certain pair of sandals right now because I broke my toe last Sunday and it still hurts to wear real shoes, although I haven’t tested it since Monday so I might now be in the clear on that score–anyway, I have to wear stuff that matches the only shoes I can walk in without crying) tomorrow, but I’m afraid it’s unprofessional and unseemly to show up at your job showing off legs that look as though they’ve got a horrible case of cystic acne (GROSS!). On the other hand, wearing pants will probably make me want to die from the itching. My life is so hard.

I’ve used some cortizone cream on the bites, which has offered no relief but has left a sticky, shiny residue that makes me look like the welts are leaking (TMI, sorry friends, it keeps happening), and my roommate looked up “mosquito bite remedies” on the Internet and suggested I use deodorant on them, so I did that. Surprise! It didn’t work.

I haven’t yet tried athlete’s foot cream. Should I? Vote in comments.

21 Questions

Posted on June 3rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

Yesterday, Dog Mutha Heidi Kling had an amazing idea: Ask a Tenner. She opened up an unlocked post on the Tenners LJ and invited teens, bloggers, book fans, and other writers alike to post a question for the Tenners to answer. It was an amazing success–500+ comments and counting! To be honest, it made me a little cross-eyed, but it was so fun that I’m still answering questions, and I know lots of Tenners are, too. We’ll probably do it again, along with chats, so be sure to watch the LJ, follow us on Twitter, or keep an eye on this space for more opportunities to bombard us with awesome questions.

Along those lines, I thought I’d use today to answer the 21 questions New York Magazine asks prominent New Yorkers on their Daily Intel blog. Okay, I’m not a prominent New Yorker. But come on! Don’t you want to know more about ME? Oh, you don’t? Okay, well then you might not want to venture into the FAQ section.

Here we go:

Name: Anna Jarzab

Age: 25

Neighborhood: Morningside Heights

Occupation: Writer, marketing ninja

Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional? Stumped on the first real question. Is it stupid to say Chuck Bass? Also, Edna St. Vincent Millay, just because I think she’s so interesting. I keep meaning to go to her old house in the Village, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Have you read Savage Beauty? You should.

Also, Jill Zarin. Sorry, Marc Indelicato, I copied you. Team Jill!

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York? I don’t tend to eat very fancy, so I’m probably going to go with the Napolitana macaroni & cheese from Pinch ‘n S’mac. I know that makes me a seven-year-old, but what are you going to do? Also, the pulled pork sliders at Bua.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? Well, my day job is top secret, but suffice it to say I spend a lot of time on the Internet. For my writing job I…spend a lot of time on the Internet. Let’s face it, I live in cyberspace, so really I should just go all “Kill Switch” and upload my brain to the web and be done with it.

Would you still live here on a $35,000 salary? …Yes

What’s the last thing you saw on Broadway? Equus, right before it closed.

Do you give money to panhandlers? Sometimes.

What’s your drink? It used to be Diet Coke, but ever since I gave it up for Lent I’ve been trying to cut back, and I’ve been reasonably successful. I drink a lot of iced tea now, peach Snapple and lemon Lipton’s from the mix.

How often do you prepare your own meals? This goes sort of week by week, but I would say 4-5 out of 7 days.

What’s your favorite medication? Excedrin. I’ve been headache/migraine prone ever since early childhood, and my TMJ exacerbates that, and Excedrin is really the only thing that works. That said, my tolerance for everyday aches and pains is pretty high and I’ll usually wait until I’m miserable to take anything.

What’s hanging above your sofa? A bare lightbulb. Seriously. Our couch is in the middle of the room and after I replaced the lightbulb in the ceiling, I couldn’t get the fixture back on, so it lives on our floor. It’s not cute.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut? Anything over $50.

When’s bedtime? Midnight, usually. I try to be in bed with all but my reading lamp off by then.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square? Times Square changed in, like, the eighties right? When I was a zygote? So I’m going to go with the new Times Square, since it’s the only one I’ve ever experienced. That said, I hate Times Square and avoid it at all costs except to go to the theater and when people are in town and want to go, but I will not go quietly! It edges the old Times Square out for me only because I hear that the old Times Square was seedy and dangerous.

What do you think about Donald Trump? I can’t see how this is a relevant question, but okay. I don’t think about him at all.

What do you hate most about living in New York? How much time you got? Just kidding…sort of. I hate how there’s so much noise it’s like living with a radio implanted in your brain. I hate the expense. I hate how hard it is, how stressful, how much of a struggle every day can be.

Who is your mortal enemy? Um, I don’t know. I guess I don’t have time for mortal enemies–that sounds like a lot of work. I do, however, have a few people that I adamantly don’t trust or like, but it’s not the sort of thing I feel without provocation–that’s a hard-earned status.

When’s the last time you drove a car? Hm, January I think. When I was in California for Christmas. So, a while.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you? I have a couple of friends who are out of jobs, which is sad and upsetting to me, especially because I want so badly to help but I can’t. It also caused rents in New York to go down, so that’s good for me. Mixed bag. Mostly bad, though.

Times, Post or Daily News? None, really, I don’t tend to read the paper, but I guess the Times online.

Where do you go to be alone? My bedroom.

What makes someone a New Yorker? I don’t know. I tell people that if you’re not planning on getting the hell out of dodge after a year, you’ve earned that title. Unless you’re being subsidized by your wealthy family, being young in New York is hard work, so if you don’t run away screaming after a year, you’re one of us.

The myth of creative genius

Posted on June 1st, 2009 by annakjarzab

Thanks to everybody for their comments on my BEA post! It was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait until next year. Also, Mary, I don’t think Berk wants your first born–he’s got one of his own, and one on the way. He says to send diapers or cash.

Sunday I was planning on going to BEA again, but then I got lazy and decided to sleep in. As you do. Then it was time for my date with my roommate. A few weeks ago, my friend Natalie wrote me an email and asked if I wanted two free tickets to the Museum of Modern Art that she wasn’t going to use. Many of the New York museums have donation based admission fees–basically, they suggest $20 per person, but you’re free to give whatever you want (although if you give them like a dollar, you might get a face).

The Met(ropolitan Museum of Art) and the Natural History Museum are both like this. My own general rule is that, because I live in New York and I pay taxes that go to support the museums and I also go more than once a year, I donate $5-10 each time I go. I usually suggest to people who are tourists that they pay more, like $15, even the full $20, because they’ll only go once.

Anyway, the MoMA isn’t like this–it’s a flat $20 admission fee. Which is expensive! The MoMA does Free Target Fridays, where from 5-8 PM every Friday the museum is free, but of course it’s always packed and I don’t get off work until 6 and it’s just not worth it. So, long story long, Natalie’s tickets were very welcome indeed, at least for my first time, given my…confusion regarding modern art.

The museum, in short, was great. We saw a small collection of Polish posters in the design section, and my roommate gave me a primer on modern art. I have a passing familiarity with Picasso, Pollack, and Rothko (my roommate’s favorite), but I just don’t get modern art.

Art is something I have no real intuitive feel for. I can look at something and say whether or not I like it, but I just don’t have as deep an understanding of art–especially modern art, because I like narrative and symbolism, and modern art tends to want to subvert that rather than indulge it–as I have an understanding of literature. I can tell you if a book is good or not–I cannot tell you if a painting is objectively good, only if I like it myself.

Anyway, my favorite piece I saw all day was Magritte’s Empire of Light II:


But anyway, there was an entire room where there were studies of paintings and performance art being displayed. A study is a “drawing, sketch or painting done in preparation for a finished piece, or as visual notes,” according to Wikipedia. In this room, there were studies of costumes and set pieces for plays as well as sketches for paintings and sculptures. Roommate, who loves art and says the most awesome things, was like:

“You know, these are all works of art in themselves, and they’re just practices of the finished work! This blows the myth of creative genius right out of the water. You don’t just stand in front of a canvas and paint a masterpiece–it takes hours and hours and hours of work to make one piece of really good art.”

Of course, I immediately thought of two things: that weird story about the study for Marc Chagall’s “Over Vitebsk,” which was stolen from the Jewish Museum in New York and ended up in a Topeka, Kansas post office, and writing.


Over Vitebsk by Marc Chagall

Writing is difficult. Anyone who tells you differently is lying, or isn’t a writer. I love talking to writers of all kinds, but I tend to get frustrated when people tell me that they “want to be a writer” but either “don’t have time to write” or “can’t get started.” We all have angsty times in writing, and I’m not saying it’s not depressing to put down 2K words on a page and then read it over and realize it’s terrible. That’s a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling, and it only gets worse when you’re agented and/or published because back when you were just on your lonesome, you only had to worry about disappointing yourself–now you can’t help but think of all the other people you tricked into thinking you were a good writer, who are going to find out that you’re not when they read the slop you’re writing.

That feels awful. I’m going through some hard writing times myself at the moment, so I can relate. But it’s important to understand, and to remind yourself daily, that good writing is a process, not a gift. Sure, there’s the occasional genius, but odds are you’re not that person–I’m definitely not that person. All Unquiet Things is seven years old. I’ve completely rewritten it once, and revised it countless times. Who knows how much work my next books are going to require? For most people, there’s no such thing as a Muse, there’s no such thing as creative genius–it’s just a real investment of work and thought and consideration and the helpful advice and support of your team (be that your family, your friends, your professor, your critique partner, your agent, your editor, etc.).

This came up again last night when I was talking to my cousin Emma, who’s finishing up her senior year of high school. She’s in a creative writing class, and she has to turn in a story pretty soon. She was stuck with it and wanted advice. I couldn’t tell her where to take her story (although I could tell her what I would do with it, because it raised some really interesting possibilities), but I was able to say “I totally get it” when she complained to me, “Every time I read it I hate it more and more!”

Because the first draft, or the zero draft as some like to call it, isn’t very good most of the time. It always has kernels of brilliance, but it has sagging middles and awkward dialogue and too many adverbs and inconsistencies and misplaced paragraphs–it’s just a big old hot mess 99.9% of the time! The more drafts you do, the more you fix, and the more brilliant kernels you add, until it’s polished enough for editorial feedback, which polishes it more, then copyediting, which polishes it even more.

Art takes work. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to work at your writing, you’re pretty dead in the water. So take a hint from the masters and do a study. Do ten studies if you have to. Keep plugging away. I’m right there with you.

P.S. Eric added the LiveJournal plug-in, so let’s see if it works!

Apartment hunting

Posted on March 23rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

There’s nothing I’d rather do less than apartment hunt in New York City. It’s so hard! Everything’s always dirty, too small, overpriced, and it’s pretty obvious that the leasing agents/landlords are trying to screw you big time. The worst part is that once you find something decent you have to jump on it right away, with no time to comparison shop, because apartments here go in the blink of an eye.

I found the apartment my roommate and I live in now on my own, took care of the application and arranged things with the broker, and we lucked in to a pretty awesome place despite my complete naivite. We haven’t moved since, because we both felt like finding a new place as good as this one would be a total nightmare. And it will be! In November. When we move.

Two of my friends live in Brooklyn, and they’re desperate to move to Manhattan, so yesterday I went with them to look at a bunch of places in my neighborhood (generally speaking). FYI, it’s so much more fun to apartment hunt when you don’t have to make any decisions. The first one we saw was in South Harlem, 118th and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. The apartment was gorgeous; big and full of light, with an open but large kitchen. It had been vacant since September the leasing agent told us, because of the economy of course.

They say that a lot these days, along with “The rent has been lowered three times this year,” as if you’re supposed to feel sorry for them. You were goudging people for years! This is the only good fallout of the economy, that non-investment bankers can afford to live in Manhattan again, but it helps me and my friends so I’m not at all sympathetic to the management companies that have been greedily jacking up rents for almost a decade.

The price was great, especially for the size of the apartment and the niceness of the building (it was clean and the tennants were friendly and everything seemed to have been freshly painted) and proximity to the train– less than I pay now for an apartment two thirds the size. But the neighborhood, while relatively safe, wasn’t really around stuff. The thing that bugs them both about their abodes in Brooklyn is how far they are from food and bars and the drug store (when you live in New York, it’s important to be close to two things: the subway, and a Duane Reade. Don’t ask why, that’s just how it is). So they stuck that place in their back pocket (another nice thing about this economy’s effect on New York real estate: you don’t have to decide THIS VERY MINUTE) and we went back to Broadway to check out a place on 108th.

LOL this experience. It was an open house, we didn’t have an appointment with a specific broker. We show up fifteen minutes late and there are a bunch of other people hanging out on the stoop, including some unfriendly girls who seemed to view us as enemies, I think because they were under the misapprehension that we, like them, were looking for a three-bedroom, but we weren’t, as I have an apartment already and was just around for moral support. So cut it out with the dirty looks, mean girls!

Finally the guy (I say “guy” because I have no idea what he was–leasing agent, owner/landlord, etc? It’s a mystery!) shows up and he’s like, “Okay, we’re going to see a bunch of apartments, ready, go.” I think we probably saw six, and all in different buildings. The apartments were all empty, but mostly dirty. Also, they were typical New York apartments. A lot of these old buildings used to have big family apartments that’ve been sloppily chopped up and made smaller (mine is an obvious example; it’s like a freakin’ fun house in there, with the slanted ceilings and bulging walls and doorways shaped like rhombuses). As a result, the apartments have radically different-sized bedrooms and strange layouts (nothing sends a chill up my spine like the words “railroad apartment”). That wasn’t going to work for my friends.

I was getting really frustrated with how little effort the guy was putting into selling these places to prospective tennants. We were just being herded in and out of each apartment (all fourth and fifth floor walk-ups, for the most part, except the last apartment, which was on the second floor but naturally there was an elevator), and every once in a while he would ask people, “So what are you looking for? What’s your price range?” like he was barely listening to the answers. It was very odd.

Happily, however, one of the apartments was pretty good–equal sized bedrooms with nice closets, a newly redone kitchen with granite countertops, half a block from the train, good neighborhood, lots of stuff nearby. Basically, it’s perfect for them, and for me, because they’ll only live 15 blocks away! Hopefully everything works out with their application and they get the place and don’t have to apartment hunt anymore OMG it sucks so much.

As for me, my reward for all those shenigans is that I came home last night to discover they were turning the abandoned storefronts across the street from my apartment (I live in a somewhat less classy part of the nabe than the girls are moving to) INTO A DUANE READE! Since I live 10 feet from the train, this fulfills the New York Dream for me. Now I kinda don’t want to move.

2008 wrap-up

Posted on January 1st, 2009 by Anna Jarzab

2008 was, in many ways, the best year of my life so far. I guess it’s pretty apparent as to why. It didn’t start off so great, or at least it started off a little “meh” as far as my life was concerned. I’d just gotten a rejection on the full of AUT on Christmas Eve, and I was back in New York after spending the holidays with my family in Chicago, which always sort of depresses me, 1. because I love my family and miss them when we’re apart and B. because I only like living in New York, like, 30% of the time. So. I had a job, I had an apartment, I had my best friend right there with me in the city, but everything was new, cold, and a little bit “what now?”

Then Joanna emailed me and I told her about AUT and she asked for the full and then offered me representation. Boom! I remember walking to Cambria’s apartment with her from the train and saying, “If Joanna offers me representation, this could change my life.” And it did! Three much needed revisions of AUT later and we’d sold it in a two-book deal, in a pre-empt, to Francoise Bui at Delacorte! It was a very exciting moment for me, and when I think about how unmoored and listless I felt last year at this time, I’m so grateful for (and amazed by) what happened this year.

2008 held all kinds of wonderful surprises. I made way more awesome friends in New York, including most of my coworkers who are angels sent from the Lord above, I introduced one of my California best friends to one of my New York best friends and they started seriously dating, two of my good California friends got engaged (not to each other, to their respective boyfriends), Kim and Jenny came to visit (Jenny, the girl half of the aforementioned couple, came three times this year!), Carmen and Tim (one of the aforementioned engaged couples) came this year, my mother came several times, my sister was here for three weeks for a film camp and I got to see her a bunch, my aunt Kika and cousin Emma came, my aunt Irene and cousin Michelle came, and I’m sure I’m missing visitors and other fun things, but my brain is not capable of remembering how great this year was in one fell swoop. I have to do it in chunks.

I read 72 books. That’s 8 below my goal, but maybe next year.

Professionally (aside from the book deal), I finished MB (well, the first draft anyway) and joined the Tenners, which is such a great community I can’t even begin to tell you (holla!). In my day job, I got a little promotion, which was grand.
I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’m proud of myself, I’m still excited about writing and reading, I’m still addicted to the Internet and Gossip Girl (and GG on the Internet). I think I only had the two fake boyfriends (Rob Pattinson and Ed Westwick) and one fake husband (That James McAvoy) this year, which means I’m starting to settle down!

You know how I celebrated the New Year? I mean, before going to Jenny’s NYE party? I SENT THE FINISHED AUT MANUSCRIPT TO MY EDITOR. Sure, it was New Year’s Eve and she wasn’t in the office, but it said December 31 on my contract, so I sent the manuscript in on December 31. I hope it’s finished. I won’t be upset to do more revisions, but I always like to make the best effort possible so I hope that at least the manuscript accomplishes what I wanted it to accomplish (it’s the new sections that make me a little bit nervous; other than that I think the MS is fine). We’ll see later in January. Until then, the rest of my MB revisions so I can send that manuscript to my editor. And THEN I can start working on new stuff! New stuff! I can’t believe it! I have a feeling it’ll involve proposals, but still!

I hope everybody’s having a great New Year’s Day morning (my brother’s had better, but I’m fine, if probably more tired than I feel). I think maybe later I’ll head back to Jenny’s to help clean up and then up to Cambria’s dad’s house to watch the Rose Bowl? We’ll see if I can tear myself away from my bed.


Posted on November 12th, 2008 by Anna Jarzab

Today is my one-year jobiversary, or, if you prefer not to use ridiculous portmanteaus for every single thing in your life, my one-year anniversary of being at my job. This is very exciting because it occurs to me, outside of the job I had in college, which I had for four years but doesn’t really count because it consisted of sitting at a residence hall reception desk for three hours at a time, that I’ve never been at a job for a year before. This isn’t because of fickleness, but rather my first job, as an editorial assistant at a textbook publisher, ended at eleven months because I was going to graduate school, and since then, before this job, I’ve only had internships, which have an obvious expiration date. So good for me, I’m finally an adult, or some reasonable facsimile thereof.

Last week (November 2, actually) also marked my one-year anniversary of living in New York. This is a much greater accomplishment than being at a job for a year. Living in New York is hard, yo.


Posted on May 26th, 2008 by Anna Jarzab

I was talking to my roommate about my recent deluge of writing progress this morning and I told her something I’d just realized (or maybe realized again–my memory, it is not so good): I am the law of inertia personified. You know that old saw: an object at rest will stay at rest, whilst an object in motion (divorced from any outside forces like gravity and wind resistance, etc.) will stay in motion? Or, as Newton would have it, Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum illum mutare? Yeah, that. I’m that, in writing form.

I say this because I think I’ve finished the last of my AUT revisions for Joanna, meaning that very soon, possibly now, the fate of it is no longer in my hands. First comes the submissions, then comes the inevitable rejections (I’m not even saying this negatively; I know that rejection is a part of this business and I think–although I’m probably wrong–that I’m amply prepared for it), and then hopefully comes the offer (or maybe more! Probs not, though) of acquisition. I’m jazzed for all this new exciting stuff, but I also know that I have to put my nose to the grindstone and work on my next novel, if for no other reason than I need something to occupy my thoughts as the publishing industry ticks along at its at-times-frustratingly slow pace.

Tentatively intialed MB, the next novel is another YA mystery that I actually started last summer (I think; at any rate, a while ago) when I had put AUT aside for many months to give it some time to percolate. I wrote a detailed Dramatis Personae list and summary, six chapters and a prologue, and then left it at that while I worked on revising AUT and concentrated on querying agents. That rather solid foundation has been sitting on my computer for almost a year now and as of Wednesday, when I sent J my most recent revisions, I started working on them again.

GOD, it is nice to have a summary. Writing a mystery is hard work, I don’t know how I did it the first time without one (I figured most of AUT out during the two years before I wrote it for my thesis, but a lot of the twists and turns didn’t come to me until I actually wrote it, which is simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking). I really do like to work everything out beforehand, to live with the story for months–ride the subway with it, listen to music related to it, talk to the characters and figure out who they are and what they want–before even putting a word on the page, and now writing MB is super easy because I have all the facts of the mystery figured out and every time I get to the end of a chapter or a scene or whatever and I’m all, “What comes next?” I can just refer to the summary and write that. It’s sort of like Wordsworth’s nun in her cloistered cell–the summary’s restrictions (a mystery is sort of like a choreographed dance–one misstep and everything changes, perhaps for the better, but still, it’s a rhythm breaker) allow me to be more creative with my dialogue (my favorite thing to write, especially with these two characters who I LOVE) and character development and introspective moments. Honestly, the summary takes a lot of the pressure off–instead of having to think up events (since I’ve already thought those up) I get to write jokes and fun emotional stuff.

(Side note: I wrote the funniest joke (well, I think it’s pretty amazing) on the subway yesterday on my way to the Village for dinner with my friends and we were going out afterwards (BTW, Sway is a very weird bar) so I only had a small purse for the essentials and no pen and no paper and I was like, “If I lose this, it will be a tragedy.” So I text messaged the joke to myself, and even though I got home at 3 AM I stayed up just to write the joke in my MS. If MB ever hits the shelves, I promise to reveal which joke this was, mostly because I’m a narcissist and I am SO DAMN PROUD OF IT.)

Anyway, I think I’ve strayed from my essential point, which is that I always have to keep writing because if I stop, it’s SO hard to get going again. Which is why I finished the majority of AUT the way it is now in one five-month spurt last year (also, I had a deadline, because it was my MA thesis and I wanted to, you know, graduate) because I just kept going and going and going. Getting back to work on MB was so difficult because I hadn’t worked on it for so long, but once I jump-started my creative impulse it’s been incredibly smooth sailing–I’ve written about thirty pages in the last few days, which is a nice steady pace and good output. But, living in New York means a flood of forces that can slow my progress, so it’s become important to me to squirrel away time enough to write a decent amount of stuff before venturing out into the real world full of friends and work and people trying to grope me on the subway (real story, happened yesterday, freaked me out, don’t really want to talk about it; yesterday was a super-weird-stranger day). Cross your fingers that I can keep it up long enough to bang out a first draft of MB by the end of August. I think I can do it!