numbers aren’t just for counting!

I think we can all agree that numbers are a pretty significant part of life.  High numbers are great in terms of book sales or SAT scores and high numbers are bad when comparing prices or measuring our weight (unless you actually need to gain a few pounds in which case, stop reading this and EAT SOMETHING). Numbers are the bread and butter for accountants, actuaries and engineers and the bain of existence for those of us who struggle in math.  But besides a mathematical object used to count and measure, a number often has significance to people on an emotional level.  Case in point: 

11 – Many people, including myself, associate 11:11 with good luck and if they happen to glance at the clock and see it is 11:11, they will make a wish.  To others, the number 11 immediately brings to mind the horrific events of 9/11/2001.  And of course, there is the 7-Eleven convenience store if you need a quick 12 pack of beer, a slushy, some chips and dip or, if you are brave and have a stomach of steel like my friend Anne, a hot dog.

23 – this is the date of my birthday and so, naturally, I associate it with good things.  And whenever I look at the clock and notice it is 12:23, I think to myself, or sometimes out loud, “it’s my birthday!”  I do that with 12:25 as well – “It’s Christmas!” even though I’m Jewish and Santa doesn’t really care if I’m naughty or nice.

13 – an interesting number, associated with bad luck to many, especially when it falls on a Friday.  Some buildings do not have a 13th floor, choosing to go directly from 12 to 14.  In the Jewish religion however, 13 symbolizes the principles of faith and God’s mercy.  It is also the year a boy becomes a man.  The age 13 marks the end of childhood and the beginning of the teenage years.  An exciting time for kids; a scary time for parents.  13 is a baker’s dozen and when you order a dozen bagels, you actually get 13! And for Yankee fans, the number 13 corresponds to the number worn by Alex Rodriguez (A-rod).  Whether we respect him as a person or not, most of us can admit he is a damn good ball player. 

3 – this is the number of driver’s tests I had to take before I got my license. (The license I inadvertently allowed to expire – subject of a whole other blog.)  It is also the number of children in my house growing up – I’m the youngest of 3 girls.  My childhood home was 3 Eldorado Drive. 3 is the number of stars I’ll give when reviewing a restaurant or book I enjoyed but didn’t LOVE.  3 Strikes in baseball can be good or bad depending on whose team is at bat.  Girls often use the phrase “3 strikes and your out” when giving a boyfriend a warning that he’s skating on thin ice.  A three-some (ménage a trois) is considered hot by many, weird by some and just a typical Saturday night for others. 

21 – for kids, this is the age of all ages – it’s legal to drink!  No more fake i.d.s, no more nervously asking strangers to buy beer for you outside of the aforementioned Seven-11, no more freaking out, fearing a bar raid when a cop car happens to pass your college bar and you know your sister will kill you if her license gets torn up.  And also the last birthday you’ll likely look forward to rather than dread.  Yankee great Paul O’Neill wore the number 21.  When playing Blackjack, the goal is to come as close to a 21 as possible without busting.  I can’t think of anything bad about the number 21. 

1 – The number 1 can be identified with many things.  It can signify new beginnings and a fresh start, for example, a first day of work, the 1st inning at a baseball game, a first date, kiss etc.  When running a marathon, I imagine that passing the 1st mile mark is just an annoying reminder that you have 25 more miles to go.  I’ve heard the phrase, “it only takes one” more times than I can count whether referring to the love of my life, an offer for representation by an agent, or a publishing contract.  Being number 1 is a good thing when your a contestant in a contest, next on line, or it’s your high school ranking, but being a “1” is totally undesirable when ranked on a scale of 1-10.  And a 1 star review is always a bad thing…

16 – Most identify the number 16 with the age one is allowed to drive.  Similar to 13, this is an exciting age to be a kid, a terrifying time to be his/her parents.  The phrase “sweet sixteen” holds significance to many young women and her parents.  To me, it calls to mind parties every weekend dancing to Meatloafs “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and Don MClean’s “American Pie” and wondering if anyone will ask me to slow dance or if I should conveniently go to the bathroom to powder my nose when the DJ plays Gloria Estefan’s “Anything for you.”  And, finally, no girl wants be “Sweet 16 and never been kissed.” 

I think I’ve proven my point that numbers are more than just characters on a calculator or things to be manipulated in a mathematical equation.  But what about you?  What numbers do you play in Lotto?  Do you have a lucky number or a number that gives you the hebegebees?    

Where I’m At – A-Z

Anxious – I am attending my first club as the author on Thursday night.  What if no one shows up?  Or what if people show up but hated the book?

Better – I finished the first round of revisions of my second novel and think it’s better than my first.  I have a soft spot for JFWB, but I think writing it made me a better author and my second book reflects it.  I hope editors/readers agree with me!

Crush – I have a new crush.  I initially thought it was mutual but not so sure anymore.  Oh, well.

Determined – I signed up for my first half marathon and am determined to run it!  I have five months to prepare and have been told that based on my current mileage, training should not be too difficult. 

Energized – I am bursting with energy.  Probably because it’s only Tuesday and the work week has not yet caught up with me.  Ask me again on Friday.

Family – I had Passover dinner with my family last night.  My mom made a delicious feast and I got to sit at the “children’s table” with my niece and nephew.  We started giggling while reading from the Haggadah.  I’d like to blame my niece and nephew but I can’t.  Like Sarah said, “Aunt Meri is immature!”

Guilt – I can’t pinpoint the source of this right now, but I always feel guilty about something.  I’m Jewish. 

Humbled – I received my first bad rating on Goodreads today.  I told myself I’d know I arrived when I received my first bad review.  It’s been seven months but I’ve officially arrived!

Impatient – There are so many things I haven’t yet achieved and much of it is out of my control.  I try to keep the faith, but it’s a daily struggle.

Jeans – I miss wearing jeans to work.  I like my new place of employment, but deciding what to wear in the morning was so much easier at my old job where the dress code was, ‘come dressed’.

Karma – I believe bad people get what is coming to them in the way of karma, but I’m not convinced karma exists for good people waiting for their turn.

Laundry – not one of my favorite pastimes, but it’s about that time…

Movie – I made plans with some friends to see Something Borrowed in a few weeks.  The movie is based on one of my favorite novels by Emily Giffin and I can’t wait to see it, even though I think Kate Hudson was an odd casting choice for the role of Darcy.

Not a problem – I say this a lot.  Sometimes I’m lying.

Obvious – I get depressed when I think of how much time I wasted rehashing and analyzing situations ad nauseum when the facts were clear and it was obvious I should have moved on.

Patronizing – It really irks me when a friend thinks she’s an expert at something and feels the need to bestow unsolicited advice.  Especially when I know she’s full of shit and being a total hypocrite.  Not that any of my friends actually do that…

Query – I’ve started drafting the tortuous query letter for my second novel.  The manuscript is not ready for submission yet, but I thought I’d get a head start since writing a query letter is, for me, more challenging than writing a book.

Raising Hope – one of my new favorite television shows.  It is beyond funny and features the cutest baby ever.  Highly recommend!

Savannah – I’m planning a trip to Savannah in June with a very dear friend.  I’ve heard great things about the city and look forward to getting out of my city for a while.

Try – I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish this blog – “X” might be tough – but I’ll try!

Umbrella – I’m not a fan of the umbrella.  As soon as the wind blows, mine usually turns upside down and winds up in the nearest trash can.  And there is no room for the big sturdy umbrellas on the busy streets of Manhattan.  I prefer to stick my head under a hat and run!

Violin – I played the violin in third grade.  I wanted to learn the clarinet or the flute but they were already chosen by other kids in my class.  I was awful – no talent whatsoever.  I did much better with private lessons on the piano.

WTF – This applies to almost any situation.

Xanax – Anyone have one?  It’s only Tuesday!!

Yes – almost finished!

Zen – now that I’ve finished this blog, I can go to my zen place and relax.

Except that it’s my lunch hour and I have to get back to work. 

WTF! (told you)

Casting call – Just Friends With Benefits

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I had Good Morning America on in the background.  I was bummed about missing The Facts of Life reunion by mere minutes because I took extra time shaving my legs in the shower. Since I usually watch The Today Show, I went to change the channel but stopped in my tracks when I heard the “Cotton Song.”  You know the song, right?   ‘the touch.  the feel. of cotton. The fabric of our lives’.   Catchy jingle.  But it wasn’t the song that detained me from switching channels; it was who was singing it – Zooey Deschenal.  

I always stop when I see Zooey.  I don’t have a girl crush on her (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but Zooey Deschenal is who I cast as Stephanie Cohen in Just Friends With Benefits when it ultimately gets made into a movie. Or a television show.  I would actually prefer a television show because I would enjoy seeing Stephanie and her group of friends on a weekly sitcom.  And although Stephanie was the “star” of the book, the television show would be an ensemble cast with Stephanie, Paul, Jess, Hope, Eric and Hille having equal footing.  What fun!  I have spent many a session on the treadmill dreaming up different episodes.  There is even a musical episode but it would be WAY better than Grey’s Anatomy.  Not sure I could top Buffy the Vampire Slayer without the help of Josh Whedon and maybe Sarah Michelle Gellar.  (SMG was on the short list for the Stephanie role but I ultimately chose Zooey.)  Anyhow, ever since I designated Zooey to play Stephanie, even if she’s playing April in 500 Days of April or Allison in Yes, Man, I automatically associate her with Stephanie and feel somehow connected. 

You might wonder what it was about Zooey that made me choose her for the role of Stephanie.  There are several reasons.  For one thing, she’s in the right age bracket, maybe a few years younger.  Also, she’s pretty without being drop-dead-gorgeous or intimidating.  Although she’s more ‘waif-like’ than Stephanie (who was not overweight), let’s face it, most actresses are smaller than “real” people!  Zooey is quirky and fun to watch and I think Stephanie was quirky and fun to read. And I like that Zooey is famous but not “star of every romcom, cover of every magazine famous” yet.  Maybe Just Friends With Benefits can be her break-out role!!  Of the other actresses I considered, including the aforementioned Sarah Michelle Gellar (too sophisticated), Ellen Page (too young) and Anne Hathaway (too obvious), I thought Zooey was the best fit. 

If you’re still reading this, you might think I banged my head against the wall one too many times or that one of my older sisters dropped me on the cold tile kitchen floor when I was a baby. As if Zoooey Deschenal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the chick from The Princess Diaries would ever even audition for a role in Just Friends With Benefits.  As if Just Friends With Benefits will ever be made into a television show!  Or a movie.  Trust me, I’m not banking on it.  I still get excited when a new review is posted from a total stranger on Amazon or when someone adds the book as a “to-read” on Goodreads!  I’m not getting ahead of myself.  But it’s fun to dream.  I started casting the show before I even finished writing the book, certainly before it was published.  And the members of my family all have different ideas as to who would play the roles.  I’m pretty positive that even the most grounded of first-time authors has dreamed about her book being made into a movie even though it doesn’t happen for most of us.  And I’m sure Emily Giffin had her own ideas as to who would play Rachel and Darcy in Something Borrowed and had no idea that someday (next month!) the book would be made into a movie and that Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin would be cast in the starring roles.  For every book that has ever been written, there is probably a writer who dared to dream it would someday be made into a movie.  And now I have joined the ranks with my future Emmy winning cast: Zooey Deschenal (Stephanie), Oliver Hudson (Hille – he’ll have to quit Rules of Engagement), Rachelle Lefevre (Jess – the redhead girl from Off the Map – it will be cancelled by then anyway) and James Marsden (Ryan – maybe…).  The rest of the book remains uncast.  For now.   

If you’ve written a book and dared to dream about the actors/actresses who would bring the story to life (or even just wondered who would play ‘you’ in the movie of your life), leave a comment and let me know.  I know I’m not alone out there!

Reviews – opposing opinions

I just finished a book I only read because the members of my book club voted for it in a poll.  I had no desire to read it, based partly on some assumptions of what the book was about, but based mostly on some bad reviews on Amazon.  As a result, the book didn’t get my vote but I begrudgingly declared it the winner. 

Guess what?  I loved the book – Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger. 

Since I read the book quickly and enthusiastically, I decided to go back and read  the bad reviews on which I based my premature assumption that I would hate it. 

Many reviewers complained that the book lacked a plot line.  I completely disagree.  The story is about three women who, approaching 30 years old, think they are supposed to accomplish something major by that milestone, i.e. marriage and kids.  In the course of a year, they come to discover what they really need is to be true to themselves and mindful of their own needs and desires, regardless of their age.  Was the plot what one would consider ‘high-concept?  No, but in my opinion, it didn’t matter because it captured and maintained my interest and I was fully invested in the characters. 

A few reviewers expressed a lack of relatability with the characters.  Again, I do not share this opinion.  Of the three main characters, I found myself relating to two of them.  One had difficulty letting go, jumping in and taking risks because she was often self-conscious and let fear get in her way.  I don’t know many people who haven’t been paralyzed by fear at some point in their lives.  I know I have.  The other seemed to have so many blessings, yet she wasn’t really happy and felt trapped. It is sometimes difficult to admit to others, and sometimes to ourselves, that what is perfect on paper isn’t right for us – I have been there as well.  (I did not find anything relatable about the third character, a Brazilian drop-dead gorgeous sex goddess who used her sex appeal to get whatever she wanted and whined whenever her friends got attention from men.  She was extremely conceited and it bothered me that her ability to be a good friend seemed to be dependent on being able to one-up the other characters.  I really didn’t see much of a character arc there and her story-line was definitely my least favorite.)   

Some reviewers complained that the book lacked depth.  With all due respect to those people, the book cover, an image of a stiletto sandal, is highly indicative of the light/fun nature of the story, as is the title.  If the reviewer was looking for a deep, thought-provoking novel, he/she should not have chosen that book in the first place. When I read a thriller, I expect to be frightened.  When I read a mystery, I expect suspense.  When I read an Oprah pick, I expect to be deeply touched.  And when I read a book with an image of a designer shoe on the cover, I expect to unwind and be entertained.  Chasing Harry Winston served that purpose for me.  I suppose it could have delved deeper into the psyches of the main characters, but I’m not certain it would have made me enjoy the read any more/less.     

Finally, some reviewers complained that the structure of the book was choppy and confusing.  At no point did I ever feel lost or feel the need to go backwards.  (Although I did read one of the sex scenes more than once – it was evocative without being graphic and I liked it!)  

My only complaint about the book was that a major story-line was concluded through a character telling the reader what happened in a flash-back. I would have much rather seen it play-out and I definitely felt gypped. 

Despite my premature assumptions, I really enjoyed Chasing Harry Winston and am happy it was chosen for my book club.  I like books that are full of action and dialogue as opposed to paragraphs of description and narrative so this was an ideal read for me and the story had me completely engaged. Not once during the read did I find myself bogged down in too much detail or skipping paragraphs.  And while, as mentioned above, the plot was not high-concept, I was never bored. Despite a mixed bag of reviews, that’s what makes a good book for me. 

What makes a good book for you?