Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Book Expo Lesson #2: People go crazy for free shit

At this point, Book Expo was so long ago, I feel I can barely remember the event. It is effectively a big blur in my recent memory, that I remember through a thick haze as chaotic, fun, chaotic, overwhelming, and chaotic. Nonetheless, while sitting in traffic on the way to work today, it occured to me that my last post on Book Expo was entitled Book Expo Lesson #1, thereby implying that I learned more than one thing from the show. As such, I feel obligated to share more of what I learned at the show with you. Here goes:

The second key thing I learned while at the publishing industry's biggest yearly event:

2. People go crazy for free shit

Picture this: humbled and exhausted from our fliering experience, my brunette colleague and I schlep back to the booth, to commence with the full day of meetings which lies ahead. As we approach our booth, we see that it is mobbed with people, all clamoring around the table my company has devoted to educating the masses about our latest proprietary deal with popular internet info site,

"Wow," I say to my colleague, "these people sure are into that website. And they're like, really excited about this new companion book series."
"Yeah..." she said, giving me a somewhat funny look. "Well, they're giving away tee-shirts, too..."

I quickly realize that, while some people may in fact be totally into the site, like's biggest fans, and visit the site every day, multiple times a day, many of these people are mobbing my conmpany's otherwise completely civilized booth just for the free tee-shirt.

How do I know this? Because these are the same people who mobbed the booth the day before, during the two book signings we did which we also offered free tee-shirts. I recognized them, and the hungry, anxious look on their faces. Several of them came right up to me, got right up in my face, asking desperately: "CAN I HAVE A FREE TEE-SHIRT?" No regard for the long line that had formed in front of them, or the people who had been patiently waiting for fifteen minutes already to get their galleys signed, and the free tee-shirt that was rightfully their's.

It's almost as though they had never seen or heard of such a thing as a tee-shirt before. Or as if they'd go topless if they didn't get a free tee-shirt from me that instant.

"Get a galley, get a shirt," I'd answer patiently, and these people, these tee-shirt grubbing, tote-bag laden people, would waddle away in a huff. Suddenly I understood: these people are a type. They can be easily identified by their comfortable shoes, their frumpy clothing, and the 2,3, or more totebags that dangled from their shoulders like cartoon anvils. They troll the show, searching high & low for freebies publishers, and leave with their tote bags brimming with free books, galleys, tee shirts, stickers, pens, temporary tattoos, erasers, bumper stickers, you name it.

And here they were again on Day 2 of Book Expo, clamoring around my company's table, freaking out about the enormous, over-sized tee-shirts we were giving away as though they had just seen Elvis himself in the flesh. Bear in mind, these are tee-shirts that would fit any normal-sized person like a house-dress, and bear the slogan "I'm About __________", with a line left blank, so you could fill in whatever it was that you are About with a tee-shirt marker.

"So," I overheard my saintly-patient Managing Editor say to one of the tote-bag trolls, "What are you About?"

The tote-bag troll's eye's grew very wide as she pondered the question. "What am I About?"

"I got your answer right here, sweetheart," I thought. "You're about mooching freebies off of publishers at trade shows."

The question remains: will these people ever wear those shirts again?

Monday, May 29, 2006

memorial day blondes

This Memorial Day weekend we threw a 40th Anniversary Party for my parents at my big brother's house in Delaware.

Yes, that's right, I said Delaware. What's in Delaware? I have no idea. Nothing. When they told me they were moving there three years ago, I was completely mystified. Then I went to visit them at their mansion of a first home, which they purchased for far less than the cost of a studio in my neighborhood, and I thought, "hey, Delaware is okay." As far as I'm concerned, there continues to be nothing in Delaware but my brother's house, and that's okay: they're reason enough for a visit.

A ton of people came to the party, most of whom I see once or twice a year at similar barbecue type events that my saint-like sister-in-law, Tara, & middle-oldest brother, Greg, host. I don't really know how it came to pass, but Greg & Tara holding a biannual, everyone's-invited type of festivity has become something of a family tradition in the past 2 years. Somehow, Greg & Tara went from a newlywed, twenty-something, everyone-to-the-bar-we're-doing-shots-at-the-wedding couple, to picture-of-domesticity parents of two, with a big lovely house, two cars, two dogs and a cat. Their babies are beautiful, blue-eyed, tow-headed children. And whereas five years ago, I never could have imagined them hosting large scale family festivities because they seemed more the type to be the cool, older kids in attendance, I now can't imagine a holiday without them, their house, their precious children, their silly bickering, and their hospitality. I am beginning to suspect that they may have crossed over to the land of grown-ups.

Of the many people in attendance, I noticed that several of us have gone blonde or blonder since the last time I saw them. How interesting...they are:

  • My other sister-in-law, Mariola, who I haven't seen since the last family party at Thanksgiving. She has always had long, light brown hair, often with highlights, sometimes blonder than others. This time she seemed really blonde. She looked lovely, and young, and it made her sparkly blue eyes pop.
  • My sister-in-law's brother's wife. Last time I saw her I was engaged, and I think they were still just dating at that point. In any case, since the last tiem i saw them, I broke offmy engagement, and they apparently got their engagement, and their marriage, on. I assume that Tara did her sisterly duty and informed her brother & his now-blonde wife of my marriage status. Still, I didn't really know what to say to them when they asked "what's new with you?" Last time I saw her, she was a straight-up brunette--didn't even have highlights or anything. This time, she looked as though she may even be one of those full-process blondes. She looked ethereal and pretty.
  • My Aunt JoAnne, who I idolize, who wears gold like Carmella Soprano, and who has always been blonde in a Carmella kinda way. She now appears to be that light version of blonde that you become when you want to cover up your grey. She looked as beautiful and put together as ever.
  • Myself.

  • All tolled, that's a lot of blonding. And that does not account for people like Tara, or her best friend Sue, who was also in attendance with her four gorgeous, honey-haired children, who admittedly highlight their hair as needed.

    From a distance, we looked quite the much processed, blonde bunch.

    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Book Expo Lesson #1: THE EPILOGUE

    An exhausted Kitty pulls up in the cab to the Hotel Helix in Washington, D.C. The Mathematician greets her on the sidewalk. What is the first thing she say to him about the show?

    ME: Goddamn, publishing is a homely industry!
    MATHEMATICIAN: Oh yeah? You've never been to an engineering convention. I'm talking tapered jeans with no sense of irony, pleated pants practically up to the neck, and obviously free golf shirts with "intel" logos galore. Total nerd-gasm.
    ME: Touche.

    Book Expo Lesson #1: Publishing is a Homely Industry

    Where has Kitty been these past ten days? I mean, she was posting like it was her job when she had palsy, then she's back to work, and she disappears! What's the status of her face? Did she stop being totally self absorbed & self obsessed? Did she get a life? Did she drop the blonde project? What's the deal???

    It's okay, it's okay! Nothing has gone wrong, nothing interesting has happened, I was simply out of town for a while, on business in fact, at the huge ginormous trade show that occurs for my industry every summer: Book Expo. This year it was in DC. The Mathematician and I then stayed in DC a few extra days, to ogle at lots of white marble and have a delicious, fabulous, expensive dinner a Kinkead's.

    And fear not: my trip did not decrease my level of self-absorbedness either. It in fact, only made me more self-obsessed. I learned a lot at this large scale industry event, both about publishing, and about being a blondie.

    The first key thing I learned while at the publishing industry's biggest yearly event:

    1. Publishing is a homely industry. I hate to say it, but it's true. Sure, there are hordes of pretty, well-bred girls, recently graduated from schools Sarah Lawrence or Bryn Mawr or Wesleyan, or Holyoke banging down the doors of the New York publishers for minimum wage-paying assistant jobs (jobs that will most definitely pay less per annum than a year's tuition at their alma mater.) But as I learned on my trip to DC, the prettiness stops there, folks. What happens? Do these pretty girls all give up and go into fields like marketing & PR? Or is it that because they are assistants, these pretty people aren't permitted to attend events like Book Expo? Then they quit and pursue fields like marketing or PR? In any case, these eyes have never seen a steadier stream of harried, august, bald-spotted gentleman, or brusque, suspicious eyed, Easy Spirited-women than they did while passing out fliers to the masses at Book Expo.

    I was exposed to the frumpiness of our field while handing out fliers for a signing at my company's booth. At first I assumed my company wanted me to do the fliering because the event was for one of my books, and after all, it was my authors who were doing the signing. In the back of my mind I thought maybe they were asking me to do it because I am still officially an assistant (though I sign my own projects) and as such, my job continues to entail a reasonable amount of grunt work. And I assumed they asked my friend (who does not have the word "assistant" in her title ) to pass fliers out with me because, well, we do everything together, and she would be quite likely to be a good sport & keep me company.

    Boy was I wrong. I know that now. My company asked me and my brunette colleague to pass out fliers because we are young and cute. And it was a humbling experience, that did a number on our self-esteem, and left me feeling less young and cute, more like a big pile of poo.

    Why? You see, generally, people don't like useless pieces of paper. Fliers irritate them. Talking to strangers unnerves them. And they are loathe to deal with both, especially first thing in the morning at 9am on their way into Book Expo. And if this is the reaction we got, I can only imagine what it would have been like to pass out fliers if you were as homely as the people we were giving them to.

    Google had the right idea. They passed out cookies.

    Now, I have had ample exposure, from waitressing and catering, to trying to peddle wares to the uninterested masses (anyone who has ever been stuck passing apps at an event for anorexic models knows what I'm talking about.) My poor brunette colleague has not. She marveled at my unrelenting smile, my perky "Hi, good morning, how are you," shtick. It really made me realize how good I have become at being totally fake, but sounding mostly sincere, thanks to waitressing. In any case, thank go we were in it together.

    My brunette colleague/girlfriend and I were stationed at the bottom of one of two escalators that led to the main ballroom area of the show, right as the show opened, at 9am. As such, we were at the perfect spot to interact with at least half of the people entering the show during the 30 minute window of our fliering. We got rid of all of our fliers, and returned to the booth triumphantly empty-handed.

    But here's the thing: I don't think a single member the target demographic for the chick non-fiction DATING AND RELATIONSHIP book we were publicizing took a flier from me. It's geared towards women aged 25-45, to help them develop a "fool-proof plan for finding Mr. Right." The Bridget Jones demographic. The Sex and the City demographic. People who are young, hip, and looking for love. Yet almost every person who took a flier from me was male, most of them were 40+, and a good many of them were grey-haired or bald-spotted august gentleman. I couldn't get women in our target demographic to take a flier to save my life. I couldn't even get them to make eye contact with me. And those who did would wave a dismissive, age-wrinkled hand in the air, while spitting out some lame excuse like "I'm busy at 3," or "Uh, no THANK-you," or "I just DON"T want another piece of paper, OKAY????"

    To recap: 300 fliers publicizing a chick non-fiction book on DATING, RELATIONSHIPS and FINDING MR.RIGHT placed directly into the hands of most likely already married, slightly crotchety men. And the lonely bitches in my target demographic, the women who actually need a book like this, wouldn't give me the time of day.

    Go figure.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    I'm a ten

    Last Wednesday, I had yet another reblonding session. It was similar to the usual routine in the following ways:

    • I was late (rain+I-93/accidents=traffic) and feared Jason's wrath the entire ride home into the city
    • Jason lied to me (as usual) and ever so convincingly intimated that I am indeed a natural blonde
    • As he was lying to me, I couldn't help but feel totally vindicated in my natural blondeness, and COMPLETELY BOUGHT Jason's line that I'm really a blonde (it was hours later before I reminded myself that that's total bullshit)
    • Jason talked conspiratorially in hairdresser language, explaining to a newbie what he was doing and why ("You see, when lightening and bleaching, you are lifting the color out of the hair. You've got use some manner of blue, because on the color wheel blue counteracts orange, and some manner of purple, which you also use later in toning, because purple counteracts yellow..." DUDE. Seriously.)
    • I felt more confident after we were done (and by "more confident", I mean that afterwards my skin, hair, and eyes all seemed to glow, I felt more beautiful than ever, and walked out of the salon feeling poised and certain that it was only a matter of time before I was discovered)

    This time, because it was slow and there weren't many other processings going on at the same time, Jason let me stand by him at the color-mixing table while he concocted the paste that would bring me to blondeness. I made him tell me what everything was, like an obnoxious four year old, and he answered my questions with the measured patience of a very nice Mary talking to a little kid. He used one powder that was "a bleach" and another powder that was "a blue." He then added a bit of water and mixed it into a goopy paste the consistency of cake batter and the purplish blue color of the light on a bug zapper.

    Jason also did that thing again, where he talks over my shoulder to another stylist about what he is mixing and what color he is bringing me up to, which it turns out is a "10."

    "Platinum is 12, Kitty. You are a 10. So, while I'd never bring you up to 12 (because it would make you look like common street trash) you're pretty damn close. And really, the only reason that you can go as light as you are is because your hair is so naturally light. You can't do that with just any color hair, you know." I feel so lucky

    We also had what I considered a very hard conversation: the conversation about going back to brown in a few months. It went something like this:

    ME: But Jason, do you think I'll still look pretty as a brunette.
    JASON: Of course you will, don't be ridiculous.
    ME: Well, what do you prefer me as? What color do you think I should go back to when all is said and done?
    JASON: (Pausing mid-foil.) Are you kidding? We're going back to blonde, honey. Even if we have to cut it all off and start from scratch.

    And let me tell you, it's going to be quite a process to put the color back into my hair. When he does my hair brown again in a few months, heÂ’s going to have to add gold to it, saturate it with gold even before he can bring it up to brown, and maybe add a little orange (I think.)

    JASON: I think a chestnut-y color will be right for you, don't you? Black will be too severe--I'm not letting you go black. And you may want to think about tanning when we do it. So you don't look all sallow and pasty.
    ME: Ew.

    I will need to book a double process when I get my hair browned. I wonder what that entails? I mean, as it is, IÂ’m in there for 2 hours when I get my hair done. Does a double process mean IÂ’ll be in there for four hours?

    But when I asked Jason to write down exactly what he did to my hair to get it blonde in the first place, so could post it to my blog, so I could get it right for my bookconversationsatino went like this:

    KITTY: Jason, will you write down what you did to make my hair blonde?
    JASON: No.
    ME: Touche. I suppose a magician never reveals his secrets.
    JASON: It's called six years of experience, honey. Put that in your blog.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    like totally different

    My ex-fiancee has a new girlfriend. I have known this for quite some time.

    I do not begrudge him this. After all, I have been dating the Mathematician practically since the second we broke-up. In a way, I was relieved to hear that the Ex had someone else in his life. I mean, you can only try to fit a square peg into a round hole for so long before completely and totally exhausting yourself. I hope he is enjoying the calm that comes with breaking off a broken relationship as much as I have, as well as the heart-racing, butterflies in your stomach, blissful, endorphine overload that happens when you're falling in love with someone new.

    This weekend, I ran into the acquaintance who introduced the Ex to said new girlfriend. What could I do but play dumb?

    "Hi, how are you, babe? I haven't seen you in so long! Kiss-kiss--what's new?" I said.

    "Great to see you, pretty Kitty, how are you?" she said.

    "I'm great. A lot has happened since I last saw you. The Ex and I broke up," I said.

    "I know..." she said, "You know, I introduced them actually. She's a friend of mine, and she's a really great girl."

    "Oh, really? Yeah, I heard he was with someone, but I didn't know you knew her." Lie. "That's great," I said, and smiled. A big smile. A big, half-palsy-faced smile. "Let me as ask you something: Is she a brunette?"

    "Yeah, that's funny, how'd you know? She's a brunette, with short, short hair. Huh, how about that? You've got long blonde hair and hers is brown and short, short, short! You guys are, like, totally different."

    "Huh," I said, scrunching my face up into something like a smile, "How about that." I tossed a thatch of blonde curls over my left shoulder. "How typical. And not surprising."

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    a month???

    So, I saw my doctor today. This is how the visit went.

    After waiting in her office for a half an hour, the door opens.

    DOC: Hey there, give me just a second, gotta log on to this my gosh, has it already been a week since you were here?
    ME: Yes.
    DOC: Are you sure? No...I thought you were here on Friday???
    ME: No, it's,'s been a week. (I think I'd know how long I've been walking around with a half paralyzed face.)
    DOC: So, how ya doing?
    (I am about to open my mouth and say "Much better! Look! LOOK! My eyebrow twitched this morning! Can you believe it? And I can smile a little! See! SEE", when she says...)
    DOC: Hmmm...not so great huh? Eye's still not closing?
    ME: (Not so great? You should see the Serial Killer Palsy picture I posted on my blog!) eye? No, no, it's closing. It's been closing all along, see?(I close both eyes.)
    DOC: No, it's not.
    ME: Yes it is! See, look! I can close it. (I close my eyes as hard as I can.) Look, it's closed! (I open my eyes.) See, I told ya...
    DOC: (Shaking her head with pity) Nope. It's not. Sorry. So, let's see what they say for your treatment...
    (Is she logging on to the Internet???)

    So, 30 minutes of waiting, and 5 minutes of examination later, my doctor sends me off, saying "good luck, hope it gets better soon!" with instructions for care that were most likely culled from a Google search.

    According to, my doctor...the symptoms are going to last for at least another month, possibly even two!

    "But don't worry," my doctor said. "They should go away completely."

    Excuse me? Should? Did you say should?