Gossip Girl here…

Gossip girl here.  Your one and only source into the mildly interesting lives of Brooklyn’s slightly embarrassed celeb-stalkers/teen soap fiends.

One of the exciting things to do in New York is celebrity-watching.  It’s like bird-watching, except instead of birds, you watch skinny and attractive people engage in a range of human activities.  Yup, it’s true: there are celebrities here, and anyone can watch them walk, talk and do things. But once you’ve seen a few celebrities walking their dogs, drinking coffee, or tripping on the curb, and  you’ve learned that they really are “just like us,” what’s left to do?

Photograph them without their knowledge or consent.

Blog about them.

Try to become one of them.

I should be upfront about the fact that today’s celeb-sighting wasn’t the first since my recent move to New York.  While lunching at Chelsea restaurant Cookshop with filmmakers Morgan Faust (Shout it Out, The Treasure of Thomas Beale) and Max Isaacson (Banned German Sprite Ads), we spotted Martha Stewart eating with a young man.

Martha Stewart, young buck, my creepy reflection.

Martha Stewart, young buck, my creepy reflection.

Who was he?  We have no idea.  What did Martha eat?  Deviled eggs followed by some sort of salad with meat in it.  Max, too, ate the eggs (Ever the vanguard, Max actually ordered the eggs before Martha did, and proclaimed them the best deviled eggs ever).  I surreptitiously snapped a photo with my trusty iPhone, and sent it to several people I thought might enjoy it.  Husband, mother, and culinary goddess/dear pal Chrissy.  Mom’s response: she enjoyed my ridiculous open-mouthed reflection more than the picture of Martha.  So much for my first attempt at life as a paparazza.

But I am not one to be deterred.

So when the fates handed me a golden opportunity to once again insinuate myself into the celebrity world, I took it.

Spotted: Which Brooklyn newbie had a bump-into with Gossip Girl star Connor Paolo?  Better watch out big J: L could be shopping for more than corn at the farmers market.

That’s right.  It’s 10am, and I’ve just sat in the car for an hour so I could hold onto my space during the weekly street-cleaning.  I’m on my way to the farmers market.  My teeth are unbrushed, and I haven’t showered since Friday.  Suddenly, bam! There’s Connor Paolo, better known as Eric Van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl.  He’s wearing the St. Jude’s blazer, which means that GG is actually filming in my ‘hood!  So after buying my farm-fresh local produce, I scurry home to strategize.

Upper East Side Leda. Also the outfit I will wear for my anniversary dinner tomorrow, which will, in fact, take place on the UES. Coincidence? I don't think so. A key part of living in New York is dressing the nabe. And by nabe I mean neighborhood, not something dirty. It sounds kind of dirty, doesn't it?

Upper East Side Leda. Also the outfit I will wear for my anniversary dinner tomorrow, which will, in fact, take place on the UES. Coincidence? I don't think so. A key part of living in New York is dressing the nabe. And by nabe I mean neighborhood, not something dirty. It sounds kind of dirty, doesn't it?

I decide it’s best to put on an Upper East Side disguise, rather than my usual Brooklyn wear.  (And I even shower!)  My ensemble consists of a white dress from JCrew (circa 2002), a black belt with a big patent leather buckle from Target, a black cardigan from the JCrew outlet, and red patent leather pumps (Chinese Laundry).  I pick the pumps because on my first walk-by, I’d seen several teenage extras sporting bright red shoes.  Clever, huh?  And no, these aren’t exactly UES brands, but wouldn’t  Michelle Obama be proud?  Plus, I top it off with a pair of Dior sunglasses, so that helps.

I’m obviously hoping that by looking like a UES lady-who-lunches, maybe I’ll get to be an extra.  Let’s just take a moment and acknowledge how ridiculous it is that I put on a costume to visit the set of Gossip Girl in the hopes that they’d let me walk by in the background.  Remember, I’m thirty-one years old.

So I get to set and loiter around, trying to look like I belong there, and like it’s totally normal that I’d be wearing this outfit at 1:30 pm on a Tuesday.  They haven’t started shooting yet, so no celebs in sight.  That looks something like this:

Set of Gossip Girl, aka, Packer Collegiate Institute.  No celebrities yet.

Set of Gossip Girl, aka, Packer Collegiate Institute. No celebrities yet.

Then, after much shouting and fanfare, the shooting begins, and I’m kept outside the margins of the shot. Although I’m on the side of the street with the background actors, I’m not asked to jump in as one of them.  Bummer.  Costume strategy fails.

But I do manage to strike up a conversation with a young man in a St. Jude’s blazer.  He’s been here since 5:45 this morning.  And although he’s been focusing more on his own career as an off-Broadway actor, it’s not his first time working on GG.  So, what kind of gossip does he have?  I tried to get the inside track by asking him how many times he would have to walk back and forth (obviously envious of the fact that he got to be in the background of the shot).  He replied, “Between seven and thirteen.  It depends on how well the actors know their lines.  And on this show, forget it.  We could be here forever.”  Then, on the next take, the PA scolded him for talking to me, so I got no further gossip.  But I can tell you that they have people repeatedly drive by in Mercedes and Lexuses to give BK Heights a bit more of that UES feel.  Oh, and it barely merits pointing out, but isn’t there a bit of gleeful irony in the fact that Constance/St. Jude’s is actually shot in Brooklyn, a place in which Blair would shudder to set a Jimmy Choo clad toe?

So here are the money shots: Chuck and Jenny, chatting outside his limo (which is dinged up on the non-shot side and has…gasp!…Jersey tags).

Ed Westwick and Taylor Momsen.  Small and far away.  I only had my phone with me, not my camera.  Bummer.

Ed Westwick and Taylor Momsen. Small and far away. I only had my phone with me, not my camera. Bummer.

Ed and Taylor again.  By which I mean, Chuck and Jenny.  Looks like she's (thankfully) changed her hairstyle.  But his took more work from the stylists!

Ed and Taylor again. By which I mean Chuck and Jenny. Looks like she's (thankfully) changed her hairstyle. But his took more work from the stylists!

Last one.  Guess I shouldn't quit my day job(s).

Last one. Guess I shouldn't quit my day job(s).

So, having failed to become an extra or get a good picture with my phone, I set off for Trader Joe’s, where I learned that looking like a UES lady-who-lunches at the Cobble Hill Trader Joe’s earns you plenty of attention.  But not so much that I won’t try again next time…

You know you love me.


Awkward Girl


Is this John?

Double-awk?  Heck, at this point, we can’t even call it single-awk because no one has been posting.  Sorry about that.  I’d like to be able to blame my absence on another exciting vacation, or a bout of extreme productivity on the book, but I can’t.  I’ve been spending most of my time stressing about selling our beautiful condo (email me if you or someone you know is interested), and giving myself bloody manicures as I creep on creative writing MFA acceptance blogs.  I have no news (of my own, at least) on that front.  I do know that Unsaid is into Alabama, Indiana, and Southern Illinois-Carbondale for poetry, that Amy Charles’s posts often inflame other readers, and that reading these blogs can get in the way of basics like showering and leaving the house.

I do have one further bit of excitement to share: the face-recognizer in the new version of iPhoto, which I obtained courtesy of Dad, who is always kind enough to get family packs when he purchases new software.  Thanks, Dad!

It works like this (completely non-technical explanation): you identify a person in a photograph, and then it goes through all of your other photos looking for that person.  As you refine its understanding of what given people look like, it continues to sort your photos and help you label each one according to who is in it.  As you work with a given person, it pulls up other photos who it thinks might be of that person, then asks, “Is this _______?”  The technology is pretty impressive, but some quirks quickly emerged.

1.  Bad pictures of my friend Katherine look like me.  This was not pleasing.  Katherine is a beautiful woman, but any time there was an unflattering photo of her, iPhoto thought it was me.  When she looked like her normal gorgeous self, it knew just who she was.

2.  Allison Davis and my mom look alike.  I only look like my mom in incredibly good photos of me.

3.  Karen and Morgan are practically indistinguishable.

4.  Except when they look like John, my husband, who is apparently a man of many faces.  Below are pictures that actually inspired iPhoto to ask, “Is this John?”  On several occasions, this led to my falling out of my chair onto the floor.  With laughter.  And maybe a few drips of urine.  Ok, not urine.  Just laughter.  I swear.

Second Guy from the Left: Is this John?

Second Guy from the Right: "Is this John?" I count at least three people who look more like John than that guy, including the second guy from the left, who is my great-uncle Harry. iPhoto thinks the guy on the left is Bill Cook. Perhaps he should be even more insulted. I think the guy on the right is Ed Lalanne. This commentary is only interesting if you know those two people. Sorry.

"Is this John?" iPhoto asks.  But not about John.  About his sister Janet.

"Is this John?" iPhoto asks. But not about John. About his sister Janet.

"Is this John?"  Is this more awkward for Morgan, John, or me?

"Is this John?" Is this more awkward for Morgan, John, or me?

 "Is this John?" Another awkward-dome: Karen vs. John vs. Leda.  Three people enter.  Apparently only two leave, because two of them are indistinguisable.  One of them looks like an unflattering version of Katherine (not pictured).

"Is this John?" Another awkward-dome: Karen vs. John vs. Leda. Three people enter. Apparently only two leave, because two of them are indistinguishable. The other looks like an unflattering version of Katherine (not pictured).

And, the coup de grâce. Guy on the right: "Is this John?" Is iPhoto trying to tell me something about my future? Does my computer hate my husband? Also, the woman in the photo is my lovely great-aunt Mariane, from Argentina. I have no idea who the dudes are. Except that one of them apparently is my husband's doppelgänger.

And, the coup de grâce. Guy on the right: "Is this John?" Is iPhoto trying to tell me something about my future? Does my computer hate my husband? Also, the woman in the photo is my lovely great-aunt Mariane, from Argentina. I have no idea who the dudes are. Except that one of them apparently is my husband's doppelgänger.

THIS is John.  And me, aka, unattractive version of Katherine.  Also pictured: flattering, romantic lighting.

THIS is John. And me, aka Katherine on a bad day. Also pictured: flattering, romantic lighting.

I hope you had as much fun playing as we did.  Now you know that Elijah Wood isn’t John’s only evil twin.  And I promise to try to blog more regularly.

The Truth is, I Never Left You

I’m sorry to all of those who were disappointed that I aggressively pushed my blog and then failed to write for six weeks.  I blame life-tumult, the holidays, and my trip to Argentina.  But don’t cry for me…

Argentina was beautiful, fun, and warm.  It was particularly special because I got to meet family members I’d never met, and spend time with family members I’d previously met only fleetingly.  It was also a productive trip in terms of the book.  But I don’t want this blog to be about all the awesome stuff I did.  Those blogs are kind of annoying.  So if you want to know about my trip, ask me.  I also put photos on Facebook.

Instead, I will clue you in on somethings I noticed about the Argentines and their fair country.  These are not intended to be either a) incisively accurate or b) offensively stereotypical.  Please consider them for entertainment purposes only.

1.  They hate crime, but love germs.

Argentines fear death and loss of property at the hands of ruffians.  You cannot talk to a native of the country without being warned about thievery, violence, and dangerous neighborhoods.  B.T.Dubs, most of said neighborhoods are probably safer than my own.  Argentines do not, however, fear death by illness.  They have no problems sharing mate (a tasty, psychotropic tea) gourds and straws, silverware, etc. quite generously.  Fortunately, I believe new germs strengthen my immune system, so I am now tougher than ever.  Also, they love dog poop.  Everywhere.

2.  New Year’s Eve is a family holiday.  Then, after you eat with your family, you go get drunk when bars open at 2am.  This is a good idea for family holidays in general and should be imported.

3.  Per capita, they eat more sweets than the people of any other nation.  John and I remarked several times on the quantity of pastries, ice cream, and sundry goodies that the Argentines seem to enjoy nonstop.  Then we learned that they are, in fact, the number one consumers of dessert in the universe.  Good job, Argentines!  Strangely, they aren’t as fat as Americans.  Maybe because they don’t eat a bazillion other processed foods.  But they also aren’t as thin as Europeans.  Probably because they smoke less.  Anyway, dulce de leche is awesome and I’m quite certain I could be a trillionaire if I learned to make it and sold it here.  Apparently it’s just sugar and milk.  Hopefully, I’ll perfect the recipe by the next time I see you.  Yes, that’s right, you.  And you alone.

4.  This one is about tourists in Argentina.  A lot of them are obsessed with Evita.  To a scary degree.  My own meager interest in Evita wore off even further when I learned it was the Peróns who thought inviting Nazis to Argentina would be sweet because they were white, rich, and really organized.  This didn’t stop me from singing, “Hello, Buenos Aires,” a lot, but it did stop me from doing so publicly, most of the time.  Anyway, tourists love Evita so much that they go to her museum, her musical, the other museum with a wax figure of her, and of course, her grave.  Her grave is housed in the cemetery in Recoleta, which is pretty cool because it contains a ton of ginormous mausoleums designed to fight death with the power of wealth or something like that.  Hint: in the end, death wins, as evidenced below:

Death Wins Again!

Dead Spider and Cobwebs on Mausoleum Window: Death Wins Again!

But try telling that to the tourists lined up to see Evita’s grave.  We hadn’t intended to see it, necessarily, but decided to go see what all the fuss was about when we saw a mob sprinting down one of the aisles.  We then joined a long, barely moving line.  What was the hold up?

Eva Peron's Grave, starring some carved stone, a corpse in a box in a blocked off room, and a bunch of quickly wilting flowers.

Tourists making the film their relatives at home can't wait to see: Eva Perón's Grave, starring some carved stone, a corpse in a box in a blocked off room, and a bunch of quickly wilting flowers.

That’s right, people were filming her grave.  Photos, I get.  You want to remember what it looked like, show it to people back home so they can feign interest.  But a film?  We call them motion pictures for a reason.  They’re supposed to move.  And graves don’t move at all.  It was the most incongruous and ironic thing I’ve ever seen: using a medium that’s supposed to mimic and reveal life to capture not even death, but a static memorial to it.  Personally, I’d rather watch an instructional video, starring Muckle, about how to avoid all the dog-doo in Buenos Aires.  And if you’re lucky, I’ll post that next time.

I’m Black!

Hmm…Somehow that title doesn’t work as well.  What I wanted to say is that I’m back to blogging after an overly long hiatus.  Instead, I’ve told a lie about my race.  And made everyone uncomfortable.

This reminds me of what I found to be the MOST awkward moment of the eight or so hours of joyfully tearful inauguration coverage that I watched.  The inawkuration award, if you will.  ABC interviewed Donna Brazile, Democratic strategist, campaign manager for Al Gore, and all-around ass-kicker (although, to be frank, it might be a different world today if she’d kicked just a bit more ass in 2000.)  But we really can’t blame her.

Anyway, Donna was telling Diane and Charlie about how she’d swiped the official inaugural fleece blanket from Barack Obama’s chair because he’d left it behind.  In full-on yuck-it-up mode, Charlie said the legal staff would look into whether it was a felony or a misdemeanor.

“We have a black president now,” Brazile replied.  “So it’s neither.”  Wow, I thought. That’s awkward. Everyone laughed, and moments later, she backed off the comment, which Charlie pointed out and she admitted.

See the clip here: http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=6691517

Stupid annoying people on other blogs complained about how this was a double-standard, if a white person said it, blah blah blah.  Whatever.  It would be different if a white person said it.  ‘Nuff said.  But I actually think it’s sad that Brazile said it, that she made such a joke, suggestive of internalized racism, on that most significant day.   It’s a comment she made without thinking during a lighthearted interview; she probably was too happy to be thinking–I know I was.  And it was clear she wished she hadn’t said it.  Equally disconcerting Charlie and Diane’s uproarious laughter.  Surely they wanted to keep the tone of the interview and the day celebratory, rather than probing what such a comment really meant.  Still, the ease with which they giggled made me uneasy.  All of this behavior indicated the issues of racial perception and stereotypes that we still need to work on as a society.

Anyway, that’s why the awkward award of inauguration day goes to Donna Brazile, even though I like her a lot.  (Sorry to all those who were wishing for Cheney-on-Wheels.  Shame on you.  That’s mean.  Like I’d ever award him anything.)

A Social Experiment

Yesterday, John and I decided upon a social experiment.  As we popped the cork of a bottle of champagne to celebrate his acceptance of a job offer for next year, we agreed to have a snark-free evening.  What’s that, you say, dear reader: you can no more imagine John being snarky than you can imagine me being snark-free? Well first of all, poop on you.  Second of all, within the confines of our own home, John and I engage in a fairly balanced, tit-for-tat snarkfest.

I will now take bets on who snarked first.

You lose.

It was Muckle.

Eight minutes into the experiment, he said, “And that’s why men are better than women.”

Now for a quiz.  Was he referring to:

a) penises

b) muscle mass

c) the patriarchy

d) Wham! Fantastic, the first CD I ever owned

e) Y-Chromosome DNA

But, fair readers, it wasn’t a sweep.  Four minutes after John’s first barb, I uttered the following, “Some Christian you are.”

Was I alluding to Muckle’s propensity to

a) pray to Hecate

b) disbelieve the story of Genesis

c) lie to his parents about where he is calling from

d) eat latkes

e) don hot pants

Regardless,  I think we learned something: going snarkless is fine, but it’s always fun to criticize fundamental qualities like gender and religion.  And Muckle looks really good in hot pants.

To top it all off, later that night, I learned that I had won John’s apartment cleaning services in the recent Sloan charity auction.  Now I get six hours of apartment cleaning from him, and I don’t have to feel guilty. And you can be darn sure he’ll wear those hot pants as he cleans.

I’ll warn you when the cleaning is going down so you don’t accidentally stop by for a visit (or so you can plan a “surprise” visit accordingly).

Now that’s what I call a marriage.

Just Another Blawkward Monday…

I’ve arbitrarily decided that Mondays are the days on which I will blog about awkward encounters.  Each Monday, I pledge to recount an awkward story from the previous week.  Should social graces and/or fortuitous week-long awkwardness avoidance prohibit my detailing a recent event, I’ll dig into the endless cesspool of awkwardness known as my past to tell you a story.

I will protect the innocence of those involved by giving them code names, which will involve inserting either BL or AWK somewhere into their names.  The reasons why should be obvious, and frankly, so should the identities of my awkwardness victims.

Today’s tale comes from my recent past.  John had a recruiting event in New York, so we decided to make a weekend of it.  We journeyed down under separate cover so that in case one of us died, the other would still be able to care for Awkus and Blydie.  Ok, so we did it because the company flew him down, whereas I had to take the bus because our society places a greater premium on degrees from fancy business schools that it does on wannabe memoir writers who spend a lot of time in sweatsuits.

John got to New York way before I did and proceeded to partake in  corporate initiation rituals.  He briefly swung by the hotel to let me in to the room so that I could watch Sydney White, a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves starring Amanda Bynes.  The film takes place on a college campus, and instead of dwarves, they’re dorks.  Yup.  Did I mention poignant ending, in which the dorks are elected to student council in a rousing defeat of Rachel Witchburn, made me weep?  And that’s not even the blawkward encounter.

Post-crying jag, I joined John and the gang at a bar.   The venue played a lot of late-90s hip-hop—embarrassingly, one of my favorite genres—although being a broke writer rapping along to “Money Ain’t a Thang” with a mob of consultants feels like kind of a lie.

I ultimately latched onto Blaudrey, the other Sloanie at the event, and Awko, her boyfriend.  Blaudrey is someone I don’t know terribly well, although I’ve enjoyed chatting with her the few times we’ve found ourselves in the same social setting.  This time, our conversation went something like this:

Me: Awko, you’ve done quite well for yourself.  I think Blaudrey is the most beautiful girl in your class at Sloan.

Awko: Uh, thanks.

Me: No, really.  She’s, like, really, really hot.

Awko: Thanks.  Yeah, I think she’s beautiful.

Me: No, like, seriously.  The hottest.

Awko (scuttles away): Hi, random stranger.

Me (sidling up to Blaudrey): Hey, so I was just telling Awko how you’re the hottest girl in your class at Sloan.

Blaudrey: Oh, uh, thanks?

Me: No, seriously.  I’ve thought about this a lot and discussed it with a lot of people.  You’re totally the best looking girl in your class.

Blaudrey: What about Blog and Awkward?

Me: Oh, Blog doesn’t do it for me.  And, yeah, Awkward’s hot, but not like you…

Blaudrey: Gee, thanks (begins looking around for Awko, or for anyone else who will rescue her from me).

Me (hating social cues): Seriously.  I’ve thought about it a lot.  You’re hot.  Ooh!  I love this song!  “One, two, three and to the fo’  Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the do’… ”

Blaudrey escapes under a storm of the requisite hand-gestures which accompany my rapping.


Now, this scene is in some ways an upgrade from another game I’ve been known to play, “Get Drunk and Talk About Myself,” which often precedes a stirring round of “Who Wants to Come to My Pity Party?”  But Blaudrey may well wind up working with John next year.  And now she’s probably afraid of me.

But she is really pretty.

Blomotional Strategies

Good day, Blogophiles!     

Today’s title, Blomotional Strategies sounds dirty, but really, it’s just a hybrid of blog and promotional.  And it’s my title because today I’m going to write about promotions and business.  Whenever I write business, you should pronounce it Bizz-Nass in your head, which indicates that I am writing about it in a flippant and sardonic way and that I actually know nothing about it.

First order of business: I’m currently trying to sell a bunch of old stuff on Ebay: DVDs, video games, chaps, the usual.  I’m totally out of storage space, and one of the best ways I can think of to support myself as a writer is by selling things I don’t need.  Unfortunately, no one else seems to need them either.  No bids yet. 

I also took my wedding dress to be cleaned because I’m thinking of selling that on Ebay, too.  Especially since it’s going to cost me $140 bucks to clean it.  That’s right, I’m paying more to clean my wedding dress than I’ve paid for anything else in my closet (except a pair of size 28 Seven Jeans, worn exactly once before my thyroid disorder was diagnosed–available now on Ebay!).  I’d like to solicit feedback on the idea of selling my wedding dress: feel free to comment.  Am I being anti-sentimental?  Should I be crafty and make it into an outfit/pillow/shroud/parachute/1000 hankies? Or do I have to keep it in my closet for the next 50 years attracting moths and taking up space?

Next stop on my morning of commerce, the consignment shop, where I was hoping to unload more premium denim (this time, too big!), and several shirts which I finally admitted a) will never come back in style b) I am too old to wear.  Some of you may remember that whole 70s porn-star phase I had right after college, which involved a lot of metallics and pleather.  I want to apologize for that.  And offer you any pieces from the collection you might secretly have admired–yours now at bargain basement prices.

The real promotional excitement happened as I tried to do my good deed for the day.  “Excuse me, sir, excuse me,” I called out, running to thwart the unfolding tragedy.  “There’s a cup of coffee on top of your car!”  He laughed and handed me a $5 Starbucks gift-card!  And this was no ordinary car, it was a Zip Car!  Starbucks and Zip Car–two great tastes that apparently go great together.

“It’s not coffee, it’s a magnet,” he explained, as he zoomed off to foist free coffee on the next unsuspecting do-gooder.  

I was pleased, of course, but I also felt duped!  And it got me thinking, what other sorts of fake scenarios could companies concoct to reward us for trying to be decent human beings.  Perhaps Nine West and Cottonelle could team up.  If we tell the woman she has toilet paper stuck to the bottom of her shoe, we get a $10 shoe coupon (shupon, obvs) or a roll of toilet paper.  Or maybe no teaming up is necessary.  Glide floss could reward us for telling a stranger he has spinach in his teeth, or I could strategically place a boogie in my nose and give you a trial size pack of Kleenex if you point it out. Yes, it seems guerrilla marketing really is the wave of the future (except here in Boston, see  http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/01/31/boston.bombscare/index.html ).

Maybe that’s how I can unload some of this stuff.  I’ll go out without pants, and if a stranger points out I’m not wearing pants, she can buy my old jeans for half-off whatever it is I’ve decided to charge for them! Everybody wins!


One of the cardinal rules of the writing workshop is that one shouldn’t write about writing.  

And yet so far, all I want to blog about is, well, blogging.  First of all, there are all of your lovely comments to which I want to respond, but probably won’t.  Blogs invite dialogue, but to post to each individual here might grow tedious for my three other readers.  

But I have a more sinister confession.  Today’s awkward encounter, if you will.  Between me and my computer (no, not that kind of encounter, you pervs).  

I’m already obsessed with my own blog.  

That’s right, it’s been up a mere fifteen hours or so and I’m already checking it repeatedly to see how many visitors it’s had, calculating the effects of posting a doubleawk link in my status on Facebook, and frantically checking for subscribers.  According to feedburner, I have none, so I would greatly appreciate it if you would slow my racing heart by getting off your asses and subscribing.

Of course blogging about blogging probably isn’t the best way to get you to do that.  

So let me blog about the history of my life as a blog junkie.  A quick flashback, if you will.  I actually remember when I learned about what a blog was.  I attended the Columbia Publishing Course in 2002; blogs weren’t in the curriculum yet, just vague references to new media.  But a rather pushy Italian woman in the course kept asking about blogs: Why weren’t we studying them?  What role would they play?  Had we read hers?  We mostly ignored her, or occasionally imitated her talking about her blog in a way that made her sound like Dracula: “Why won’t you read my blog?”  I didn’t know what a blog was, to tell the truth, and even the explanation that it was a weblog made little impression on me until said Italian woman wrote some rather unkind things about the director of the program on her blog.   That got my attention, if only briefly.  Career suicide, I thought (wrongly).  And, How can she think that electronic diaries are going to change the publishing industry?

Well, I guess it’s clear who the idiot was on that one.  And frankly, career suicide in publishing before getting my job as a publicity assistant would have saved me eight miserable months.  But I digress.  And also, I want to be on the record as saying I love the publishing industry since I am hoping that one day it will publish my book.

John occasionally accuses me of being addicted to the Internet, which is really embarrassing.  And also slightly true.  But I figure it’s a better boredom cure and procrastination technique than eating, which was my old favorite way to entertain myself and kill time.  The ten pounds I’ve been able to keep off without exercising can be credited to the fact that I enjoy spending large swaths of time dicking around on the Internet (no, not that kind of dicking, you doublepervs!).

My first blog was Perez.  He did a lot for me: weaning me off US magazine, helping me unwind during a free period at school, providing me with pop-cultural knowledge in quick, easy to digest morsels.  And then, as obsessed as I was with seeing what was going on with Britney or Brangelina, I suddenly wasn’t.  Celebrity gossip seemed too redundant, too banal to read every day.  And half of the celebrities were people I’d never heard of: The Jonas Brothers, Shia LeBeouf.  So as quickly as I’d fallen for him, I was so over Perez.

Next came my phase of lurking on creative writing grad school blogs, where I’d look for ideal programs, nervously check up on everyone else’s application progress, and pray to find typos so that I’d know I was better than the competition.  But that, too, turned tedious.  People asked the same questions repeatedly, posted condescending replies, and got their feelings hurt by condescending replies.  Plus, the anxiety was contagious and I manufacture plenty of that on my own.

Political blogs are my most recent downfall.  It was debate season that got me hooked on Wonkette, Jezebel–not just politics, but culture and snark, too!–and The Huffington Post (which isn’t really a blog I suppose). In the several weeks leading up to the election I got minimal work done, as I scampered from Blog to newspaper to poll sites, obsessing over each new detail.  I actually had to make a rule for myself that I would only look at such sites during mealtimes, a rule which completely failed in the week before the election.  I thought it would stop post-election, but there are new political matters to obsess over–the cabinet, the financial crisis, where the Obama girls will go to school.  But at least I’ve cut way back.

And now my own blog, consuming in a different way.  Comments to read, stats to check, design and function elements to tweak.  Oh, and posts to write.  As pretty much all of you know, I’m trying to be a writer.  And yes, the book is going pretty well, thank you.  Grad school apps (and other things, see above) have been a bit of a distraction, but chapter four is coming along and I’ve written about 90 pages in total.  So yes, this blog might become a time suck, but I figure time spent writing is a good thing no matter what.  Or that’s what I’m telling myself.

In an effort to stave off any blog fatigue you might be feeling with my blog already, I promise to make the next post about something unrelated to blogging.  Oh, and I might even let that husband of mine have a say or make an appearance, since ostensibly this is a couple’s blog.

It should be noted that WordPress spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word blog.  Nor does it recognize WordPress.  A tragic, self-effacing irony.  Or a hint that blogging about blogging is wicked boring.

What’s in a name?

That's awkward, all right.

I started this blog because of Patrick, superstar coauthor of the hit blog “Everything Else Plastic Bag” (EEPB) at http://morganpatrick.wordpress.com.  Seeing the pleasure I took in drafting haughty comments in response to his posts, Patrick suggested I get my own blog.  But in a nice way.

So I did.  And of course was faced with every blogger’s first conundrum–what do I call my blog?  (See EEPB’s first post).

Naming a blog is something akin to naming a baby.  Ok, maybe not, but I’ve never had a baby, so I can imagine them as equivalent experiences.  And, much as I named this blog with no input from my husband–my alleged coconspiritor here–I hope to do something similar when we have actual, human children.

Names have long been a topic of discussion and contention between John and me.  Perhaps this is bound to occur when one person was given the 7th most popular name in America in the year of his birth, while the other’s best showing was in 1920, when her name was the 933rd most popular.  Maybe we understand names as serving fundamentally different purposes.  I like my unique name because it signifies only me (well, me and the famous swan-fucker and, according to Facebook, a fair number of Filipina women).  But to most people who know me, I am the only Leda.  John, on the other hand, must share his name with his father, his cousin, his uncle, several acquaintences, and approximately four million other men in the US.  Perhaps this also says something about our propensities to share, and our differing needs to be the center of attention.

The first time I met John’s mother, she said to me without malice, “I like names like Katherine and Elizabeth.”  Nothing wrong with those names.  I have a best friend named Katherine and might have been called Elizabeth myself, according to my mother, had it not sounded so horrible with Eizenberg and had my father been willing to consider it.  But being a Leda feels to me quite different from being a Katherine or an Elizabeth, and it’s a difference I appreciate.

But I didn’t always.  As a child I loathed my name.  Leda Murcia Eizenberg.  Not even a syllable approaching what I perceived to be “normalcy.”  Why didn’t you give me one common name? I’d whine to my parents.  I felt strange, like an outcast.  I had to learn to spell my name early because no one else could understand it, nevermind spell it.  And today, when asked for my name, I often don’t even give it, but launch right into spelling.  “First name: L-E-D-A  last name: E-I-Z-as-in-zebra-E-N-B-as-in-Boy-E-R-G-as-in-girl.”

My fifth grade remedy to this perceived humiliation was simple.  I added a middle name.  One that would allow me to wiggle my way into slightly more typical American girlhood.  Of course, it was Kathryn.  My parents were unconcerned, even supportive as I went so far to put the name in my yearbook.  “Leda Murcia Kathryn Eizenberg.”  The meter of it still sounds as normal to me as the rhythm of my real name, although I’ve long since booted the name from my own, a reminder of when I longed to fit in, rather than stand out.  Who am I kidding?  It was during a time when I wanted both to fit in and to stand out.

The current name debate in our household revolves around whose name should go first when we have children and hyphenate.  Yes, we realize that Eizenberg-Muckle and Muckle-Eizenberg both sound downright horrible, and that we’re potentially dooming our children to a lifetime (or a childhood) of dorkiness.  But I’ve taught high school, and let me be the first to tell you, you’d much, much rather parent dorks than cool kids.  Essentially, John and I are both jockying for first position.  We both know that children are more likely to use and identify with their first last name.  Tradition has it that the mother’s name goes first, at least in our culture.  But John is quick to point out that the Spanish culture with which I claim such affinity puts the mother’s name second.  I think Eizenberg-Muckle sounds better; he thinks Muckle-Eizenberg sounds better.  Surprise, surprise.  I tend to think that if I lug a baby around for nine months, I should get to call it whatever the hell I want.

And no, this post is not our way of telling you we’re pregnant.  We’re nowhere near pregnant.  Didn’t you see me at _____ (fill in recent party where I had multiple glasses of wine)?

No, the only thing being born today is Doubleawk, our “couple’s-blog”.  So what’s with the name?  Well, I wanted it to be short.  And I wanted it to be uniquely us.  But by us, I mostly meant me because John’s at school right now and I’m not sure of his blog-o-participation.  Awk is, of course, short for awkward, and it’s an English teacher’s favorite lil’ comment when her students have pooped the bed syntactically.  But in my classroom, and subsequently my life, awk became shorthand for any of those little awkward moments or beats we might encounter throughout the day.  And double is a favorite prefix of mine–perhaps borrowed from Orwell’s 1984–meaning very, or extra.  The pun here is of course that as a blog written by a couple, there is a doubling going on.  And if you know John and me at all, you’ll know we’re both capable of being quite awkward.

And thus our first baby was born.