For One PR Hack, Learning to be Whole, Not Sum.

One of my professional resolutions this year was to get a placement in the New York Times, and not as a secondary source commenting on another's research. I've gotten placements in USA Today, All Things Considered, Marketplace, the Washington Post, etc., but this one was sort of my holy grail. (Not that the Times or its reporters need any more hyperbolic reverence from the rest of us, because that's what ultimately creates the Jason Blairs and Judith Millers.)

Yesterday I successfully connected one of the Times' top science writers with a cardiothoracic surgeon who had just presented research from a national emphysema trial. Luck was on my side, of course, and I'm not going to be giddy until I see the piece in print, but it was a nice feeling and one I've waited a while for.

In contrast, this morning I received a reply to an e-mail I had sent to another surgeon and his assistant letting them know the local business weekly was interested in covering a procedure that he was the first person in the state to perform. His assistant wrote back, telling me about how another area paper had covered the story thanks to a press release I had sent out a few weeks ago and that a childhood friend of hers had seen the story and called to schedule the procedure. She was able to catch up with the woman, who is desperate to find a cure for her condition. She may not be a candidate, but she now knows there are options available to people in her condition. The doctor's office had received several phone calls from patients who wanted more information on the surgery, she said, adding that my work serves a purpose, even if I can't always see the direct results of a press release or a targeted pitch.

I send out a release or two a week, and I usually know what I'm hoping for: a reader during a local news broadcast or a request for a patient-doctor package; a call from an Associated Press reporter wanting more information; a UPI or Reuters pickup. And if I'm feeling confident, or ridiculously lucky, a spot in the Times' "Vital Signs" section.

As I finished reading the note, it occurred to me that my goals might need reprioritizing.

01-31-2006 10:54 AM - comments (1)

It's OK, Sinatra Might Share His Cardboard Box.

If there was one thing I could say about Michael, it is that he is such a good person that he makes Jesus look like a hobo.

Seriously, can't say enough about the boy. He and I had a wonderful weekend, even though I bailed on our plans for Friday because I was so exhausted. There's no one else whose company I enjoy more than his, especially over tapas at Mirasol. He was up late last night fixing my computer's video card, helping clean up my hard drive and generally making my computer feel a lot younger than its three years, so tonight I will be his devoted love slave. But less gross-sounding, of course.

01-30-2006 9:56 AM - comments (0)

Happy 250th, Wolfgang.

Though I don't know much about classical music, I do know "Ronda alla Turka" is one of the best songs ever written and that they played it when my 5th grade Gifted and Talented class performed "Dinotopia" on stage and I strew silk flowers everywhere and then some husky girl named Mary-Margaret stole the basket I was carrying and my mom bought me a "Saved by the Bell" poster to make up for it (both for the incident itself and the larger issue of me being horribly outcasted by girls like Mary-Margaret, who managed popularity despite her huskiness) but it was a poster of Mario Lopez and he grossed me out.

01-27-2006 11:18 PM - comments (1)

"Shadows Kept Alive."

I'm going to write a novel, I've decided. I might be absent for a while while in pursuit of this endeavor. It will be a riot. An incredibly depressing riot.

Is there a song that could break (the) heart more profoundly than "Company Calls Epilogue"?

01-27-2006 10:33 PM - comments (0)

Blankets on the Beach.

The snow is blowing sideways, and I'm dressed for spring. Kelly green fitted polo shirt, green, yellow and grey flowered BCBG skirt and crazy grey Kenneth Cole heels with yellow trim. It looks like April spontaneously combusted and then got a hold of some permanent markers.

Lunch will certainly not be the healthy tomato soup sitting in front of me, but an Imo's lunch special of onion pizza, salad and Diet Pepsi. This is on the heels of last night's meatball sub feast. I discovered a passion for forming meat into perfect spheres, as well as a tendency to steal bites from the almost-too-spicy marinara sauce that only took five minutes to make. I made the full recipe -- 16 meatballs, seasoned with garlic, Italian breadcrumbs, parmesan, Worcestershire sauce, flat-leaf parsley, onion, red pepper flakes, etc. -- with two huge hollowed-out sub loafs, made from an even bigger Companion loaf that set me back a few dollars. I naturally doubled the amount of asiago, mozzarella and provolone that was to top the sandwiches and let it broil for just a minute too long, so the bread was all crusty and the cheese clung to the meat like a shroud.

Of the 16 meatballs, we ate four or five total. I woke up this morning craving one, but even I have standards.

Michael came to bed later than usual last night, sounding like he had been run over by a truck containing crates of the influenza virus. I also felt woozy, so he brought me a gigantic glass of Sunny Delight, Smooth Style, which used to be called California Style, and I know there's no real juice in there, but sometimes fake is better than real. We stayed up talking about where fondue comes from, why people think French food is so terrific and yet no one can name more than one or two examples of a typical French offering, and names for our kids. We settled on Pretty Petticoat and Seanathon Gaolyrdamus for boys and Anna for a girl. Pilot Inspektor was brought up, but only in jest. I fell asleep and had dreams of being shot in the face by terrorists who could see into my soul and losing my pet mouse on a field trip, and he held me and told me everything would be OK.

I listened to Bright Eyes and Coldplay this morning, to the songs that make me think of him. I thought of the picture of him I took on the beach at night and how he told me last night it doesn't look like him. I saw the tousled hair (truly windswept), and I saw the way his eyes shone and his lips formed an easy smile. In that picture, he is able to make me forget it's nighttime, and I can't understand why he doesn't realize that's exactly what he always looks like.

01-13-2006 10:07 AM - comments (0)

Back In My Day, We Didn't Have Phones.*

You know what? I'm tired of having to listen carefully because your menu options have recently changed. I have a better idea: Stop changing your damn options, and I'll go back to pushing the same old buttons I always do.

On an unrelated note, if Andy Rooney ever retires, I think I know just the person to replace him.

*If you know Michael in real life, make him do his old person impression. Cracks me up every time.

01-12-2006 2:26 PM - comments (0)

2005 Movie Roundup...

...because everyone else is doing it.

Movies I saw, in order of most to least favorite:
Brokeback Mountain
The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
History of Violence
Batman Begins
March of the Penguins
Wedding Crashers
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Walk the Line
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Upside of Anger
Sin City
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Kicking and Screaming
Bad News Bears
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
The Longest Yard

Movies I missed, in order of most to least desire to see:
Match Point
The Producers
The Squid and the Whale
Memoirs of a Geisha
Pride and Prejudice
Broken Flowers
The Aristocrats
The Constant Gardener
Me and You and Everyone We Know
My Summer of Love
Good Night, and Good Luck
In Her Shoes
Red Eye
War of the Worlds
North Country
Fever Pitch
Everything is Illuminated
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The New World
The Family Stone
Melinda and Melinda
The Ballad of Jack and Rose
Dark Water
The Skeleton Key
Kingdom of Heaven
Four Brothers
Fun with Dick and Jane
The Ring Two
Kung Fu Hustle
Layer Cake

01-12-2006 10:39 AM - comments (0)

"Do You Know the Way That I Can't Lose?"

Despite my absence here, I actually have quite a bit to write about. Most of it centers around My Worst Birthday Ever, and I'm sure I'll tell you the story some day. Just not today.

Yesterday I woke up with an extremely bad hangover (as if there are any other kinds). This was certainly caused by the three apple martinis my co-birthday party honoree Jamie made me, the shot of Jim Beam, the Red Bull and vodka and one or two other drinks I characteristically have forgotten about. All in all, it was the sort of hangover one moans about but that was earned with a profound sense of appreciation, as in, I sincerely appreciate this second birthday party my friends have thrown me and the drinks you bestowed upon me. I also was honored to have been asked to bring mix CDs, although it should be noted the CDs were far past the stage of infancy before I was asked. And yes, I did spend $0.99 of my $60 iTunes gift card budget on a Three 6 Mafia song called "Stay Fly," a love song to marijuana, specifically for said playlist. What of it?

My internal monologue is nearly as defensive as I am. You should have heard it seethe when someone criticized the inclusion of a particular band or song: This is all mine. You were not asked to make the mix CDs. It takes a real visonary, a genius ahead of her time to make the choices I did. You, you over there, would be happy with three Jay-Z songs in a row. I play those exact songs with a certain finesse, and that finesse means squeezing in some well-intentioned Marilyn Manson and Soul Decision, yes, Soul Decision, whose "Faded" is the ultimate tribute to guys not taking no for an answer. Irony? I have only contempt for irony.

In totally unrelated news, and this is also said without a shred of contemptible irony, I wonder how much anger and bitterness is normal. Is it a sure sign of instability that I won't let go of this grudge, or do you (singular) just deserve it? Because no matter what anyone says -- and actually, no one says anything because no one's heard my side of things -- I'm kind of convinced you do.

Do you (plural) ever wonder about the power you wield, the incredible ability you probably possess to obliterate someone's life? Information you have, secrets you've kept that might as well amount to a 9 mm and a steady trigger hand? Maybe people grow past this realization and become the people they're expected to become, nice people who forgive as Our Lord and Savior does so gracefully; granting this, I am fully aware maturity does not leave a lot of room for insane revenge plots. (It does leave a lot of room for predictability and hangover-free Sundays.)

At some point, my anger evolved into a more principled and less emotional need to extract justice. It's not like I spend every waking moment twirling a comically fake handlebar mustache and plotting to tie you (singular) to the tracks like they do in the movies; were it only so uncomplicated. I don't care about you anymore, haven't in quite some time, but I hate the idea of you getting away with it. I hate that no one looks at you any differently, that you're still golden. You have no idea how much I hate that.

I have refrained from doing anything, because my real satisfaction comes from simply knowing I have this power to hurt you. It is a power you were never able to enjoy while you were making my life miserable, and even if no one besides us ever knows the truth, that power shift makes all the difference in the world.

01-09-2006 5:41 PM - comments (0)