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Wiki says: A southern belle (derived from the French word belle, ‘beautiful’) is an archetype for a young woman of the AmericanOld South’s upper class.

RoadTrip Success!

Well maybe the definition of a Southern Belle is a little archaic and superficial, but I plan to become more intimately acquainted with those states who once made up a Confederacy.

For better or worse, Michigan has always been my home.  Although I often detested and felt limited by the small town I was raised in, heading back to MI from college, Chicago, and then NYC was always a trip that I looked forward to.  There’s a feeling of calm when you’re heading back to a world so recognizable – knowing every street, where the creaky floor board is, how to sneakily turn up the heat on the pool just enough that your dad won’t notice, and being able to walk to the bathroom in the dark without tripping and no fumbling for lightswitches, since hell, you’ve been in the same house you entire life (well, except for the first eight months but who’s counting).

Well as of last week, the life I knew has changed by… 692.77 miles and an 11 hour drive (Mapquest).

That’s right, folks, my parents, Northerner’s born and bred, have relocated to Tunica, Mississippi!  You may be familiar with the city (no judgments here) because it is the third most popular gambling destination in the United States, behind Vegas and Atlantic City!  My Dad is not a professional poker player and I doubt my mom will ever wear the costume of a cocktail waitress, but they will live a mere ten minutes from the lights of the casinos.

My mom and I road-tripped down to Tunica last week for the final move – the two of us, Skippy the dog, and a load of my mom’s favorite plants (the “greenhouse” had much more room than poor Skippy and I who had to share the front seat!).  Tunica is a very cute little town overflowing with nice, friendly southerners.  I got my hair done (note to self: always get hair done in South; much better pricing than NYC extravagance!) and in that two hours, was given a brief lesson in Southern etiquette and history.

Dad in front of the Tunica Times newspaper

But I need to know more.  The South truly is a different world. Not only do people have accents  (which is #1 on my Southern Belle list – I hope to pick mine up over the Christmas holidays) but a different history than what I grew up with.  So while I’m searching for all the light switches in our new house next time I visit (when I left after my stay, there were outdoor lights on that we had no idea how they came on, or how to turn off!), I plan to be educating myself on the life from my perch in NYC.

My Southern Book List:

Mom & Skippy in the MS living room pre-moving truck arrival

I wouldn’t even know where to begin to make this a Southern Belle Challenge, but I would love to hear if anyone wanted to dive in to the deep south with me!  Also, I’m sure I’m missing valuable southern literature so please y’all, feel free to make suggestions.

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Thompson St, SoHo, NYC - aka HOME!

FINALLY!  Not only did I earn this Wordless Wednesday post through two reviews since my first WW (I told myself no WW fun unless I write a review in between), but the blood, sweat and tears involved in this door make it a very deserving share.

I may or may not have mentioned that I abhor moving, but was doing so anyways due to our past landlord raising our already sky-high rent even higher (seriously, you non-NYC dwellers would be appalled).  So, after much debate my roommate and I made the big decision to move to a different, hopefully nicer, 650 sq. foot, er, palace.

Of course moving is never as easy as one would expect or hope – and I even anticipated difficulty – but I  had not foreseen being stuck in five days of moving purgatory/HELL when our lease ended slightly before our new one began.  With a couple very nice boyfriends, neither Liz nor I was sleeping in a box in Central Park, but we did pay more than $1k for storage for a meager half of our belongings.

Now, all of our stuff is contained within the lovely, but not exactly spacious, apartment inside the wonderful red door shown above! I love red doors, always have, so think it was very serendipitous of us to find this place. Now if only someone would come find space where there is none, so we don’t look like hoarders any more…

PS you should see my bookshelf.  I plan to post a picture soon! I got rid of so many books before I moved, but one visit to the Penguin giftshop and I’ve more than made up for it.

One of my many resolutions for 2010 is to be more consistent about updating my blog!!  It falls higher on the list than running the elusive 5k I’ve successfully avoided the last five years, but lower on the list than trying to maintain a budget, part of which is packing my lunch vs. eating out (benefits the waistline and the wallet!).

In mid December, it occurred to me that  a mere year had passed since my world was first turned upside down when I was laid off from my advertising gig in Chicago (pink slip rather a symbol of solidarity in the Recession of 2008/2009, yes?).  Was I passionate about the job – No. But it could have been worse and the people there were fabulous and are still my friends today.  After some indecision and stress over uncertainty, the event ultimately propelled me into my dream publishing job, for which I am undoubtedly grateful.

I look back on 2009 with fond memories, including the arrival of my nephew Alton, who has made me realize I may have more maternal feelings than I thought (which still isn’t saying much) and my move to NYC (a city that I’m really starting to appreciate the intoxication when here).

Looking back upon my, eh, totally nerdy book spreadsheet, I realize 2009 has also been a fabulous year for the written word.  I know there are innumerable year-end lists floating around by those far more qualified than me, but just in case anyone is interested in the books that stood out in my eclectic reading list (disclaimer- all were read in 2009, though may have been published in different years):

  • THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett: This book has appeared on many “best of” lists, including the Book of the Year (USA TODAY), #1 chosen by book bloggers (BBAW) and more.  I can’t recommend it highly enough and find it offers a unique ability to immerse the reader in the time and deilect of the courageous women in the story.
  • MY HORIZONTAL LIFE: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler: No literary award winner here, but as I mentioned in my original review, this book had me laughing uncontrollably over Handler’s antics and story telling.  Not G-rated, but not completely smutty either.
  • THE MAN WHO LOVED BOOKS TOO MUCH: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Deception by Allison Hoover Bartlett: I love books about books.  While I tend to shy away from nonfiction, this “cat and mouse tale” set in the world of rare book collecting had me captivated (and seeking the elusive first edition of GONE WITH THE WIND).
  • ACCORDING TO JANE by Marilyn Brant: This novel really struck a chord within me and I found the characters compelling and utterly relatable (full review).  I’ve recently rediscovered my own Sam Blaine (read the book and you’ll understand!) and have found myself frequently thinking fondly of the story.
  • THE BEST OF EVERYTHING by Rona Jaffe: I have attempted to write a full review of this book so many times, but find it impossible to convey my thoughts and feelings.  I think a list of the irresistible attributes are appropriate: Publishing, NYC, girlfriends, relationships, trysts, ambition, books and intertwining lives.

Ok those are my top five in no particular order.  Surprisingly, all women authors (I swear I read men too – JULIET, NAKED, ROUGH COUNTRY and 13 REASONS WHY would all be in my top ten).  Does anyone else have any overlap on their top titles?

Now, back to drinking hot toddies with my roommate as I try to make my sore throat disappear, prepare myself to drift into a peaceful slumber and avoid the potentially bad news I learned today.  I wish you all the best in 2010 and hope to see more of you as I keep up with my resolution to be a better blogger!

Cheers & hugs-

Lydia

Remember the last time I talked about the potential for disappointment vs. choosing ignorance?  Well, maybe that’s not exactly what I said, but I did admit to being scared to try something new that slightly deviates from a known, and enjoyed, thing.  Ex: my love of the REBA TV show on Lifetime does not translate to her music, and when I tried to indulge in some of Reba’s greatest hits, it made me gag the next time I tried to watch her show.  My actual point was related to  Joanne Rendell’s wonderful HuffPo writing and my fear of being disappointed in her book, CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE, which she thoughtfully sent me and proved me totally WRONG (terrible article synopsis, please read full “Reading: Hobby or Lifestyle ” .  But, that book review is a glowing post for another day.

Kerri and me

NOW on for my totally unrelated comparison.  I’ve probably mentioned a time or two that I’m from a tiny town in Michigan, where you know the same people growing up through the years.  Kerri and I were inseparable throughout most of our childhood, when one of her favorite hobbies would be to stare out her kitchen window and watching the activity of the cute, older neighbor boys (I always just wanted to play fairies with wings and wands of colored paper).  One of them happened to be a very talented basketball player, so her creepy window watching culminated into a more mature crush around 8th grade.

Imagine her euphoria when just last week over Thanksgiving, the two were reunited at long last (and I do mean long; we’ve been out of high school for years).  After several very cheap drinks, some coy smiles and hair flipping, he didn’t know what had come over him.

Now, nothing inappropriate happened of course (there is no scene from Nora Roberts to be played out here), but let’s just say Kerri said that real life was impossible to live up to her eighth grade dreaming.

And there you go, Kerri, at your request a post dedicated to you!  Now pack those bags and come visit.

xoxo-

Lydia

For being the biggest city in the U. S., NYC is quite a lonely place.

I tell my friends back in Chicago that it’s really fun because you can truly wear whatever you want without people caring or noticing (if you’d like me to illustrate with pictures of other East Village locals wearing neon colors, animal prints, or an occasional live cat on the head let me know) – but you’re often invisible as well.

Maybe it’s because I’ve led a spoiled life – always had close family and friends, but NYC is a test.  Not just because it’s ridiculously expensive w/less than optimal living space (I don’t allow pictures to be taken of my apartment; I insist upon visiting for the experience over a still image) but because you’re by yourself.  A lot.  And the crazy thing is, I think I’m starting to like it.

With the exception of my mom reprimanding me for drinking wine alone tonight (before you judge, I was trying to write and I now understand why real writers are notoriously heavy drinkers), I’ve learned I may not be quite as social or as talkative as I would have previously believed.  I actually enjoy eating dinner out by myself (usually with a good book) and the solitude when my roommate leaves and is no longer  constantly trying to speak to me.

I recently read Jen Lancaster’s memoir, BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG ASS.  It resonated with me not only because she hails from my beloved Chicago and the bus lines she spoke of were so familiar, but when she talks about the fast and easy friendships of the past giving way to new living, and relationship, situations:

“Suddenly I found myself living around people very different from me.  We were diverse not due to ethnicity, race, or age, but because we didn’t come from a shared past; our jobs, hometowns, educations, and experiences were all vastly different and we had no instant commonalities…” (pg. 178)

This I can commiserate with.  Yes, I’ve made acquaintances here in this huge, vast city that sparkles in the night and grimy by day… Even some people I call friends.  But it’s hard work when you don’t have the baseline from which to start.

Luckily, I have books to escape the real world and I find myself disappearing into them quite often.  For the second “luckily”, this trait is advantageous to being in a job I love.  So while I desperately miss my friends in Chicago (there’s nothing comparable to living with your two best friends in a downtown highrise boasting a pool on your rooftop with a view of Lake Michigan) I like to believe I made the best decision in transferring my life to the East Coast.  While I admit I’m not exactly living an Into the Wild survival expedition, I think I have given up some basic luxuries.

This may be a pointless post, but thanks for indulging in my slightly-wine induced thoughts and joining me all the way out here in NYC.  In fact, I think I officially belong in that annoying group of people that think “everyone should live, and thrive, in NYC at least once in their life.”

 

Update: Oprah (along with some kind words and admittances of solo and proud drinking from OUB & OAD) has made me realize that moving to NYC is a worthwhile adventure for a job I love.  Recently, Oprah shared a list of “The Top 20 Things I Know for Sure” and I’m happy that I am totally in line with several, including #13:  Let passion drive your profession.

 

…for my digital “NovelWhore”  life at least!  I’ve updated “About: NovelWhore” and added “To Avoid List: Chicago” – please comment and share thoughts/criticisms/input.  “To-Do List: NYC” coming soon!

**My apartment listing from Craigslist, I know this isn’t a book review, but since I need to find someone to sublease so I can head to NYU am hoping it’s somewhat relevant!  Please pass this on to anyone who may be interested in Summer in Chicago!**

It makes me melancholy to even post this, since I know there is no better place than Chicago in the summer, especially in my apartment where we have a pool on our roof (32nd floor!), floor to ceiling windows and are just blocks to the beach and many summer festivals!

But alas, I’m headed to NYC for a potentially life-altering summer course, so my room in my Gold Coast high rise will be available, fully furnished and with two wonderful female (24/25) y.o roommates to share the summer experience with!! I’m looking for someone June 1 – July 20, but the end date is negotiable.

Like a hotel but more homey (and no maid, but there is a dishwasher and maintenance men!), the amenities are as follows:
• View of Chicago from the 24th floor in every room, yes that is Lake Michigan!
• POOL on roof with tons of chairs for sunning
• Workout room and laundry room
• 24 hour door men
• Double bed (I’ve been told it’s like “sleeping on a cloud”!)
• Furnished bedroom with desk and wardrobe
• Furnished living room including 42” flat screen TV to be shared (typically Lifetime movie Sunday!)
• Blocks to all public transportation – Redline, 22, 36, 151, 156 buses
• Walk downstairs to the heart of the Gold Coast – State and Rush Streets, for nightlife, food, bars and fun!
• Very affordable rent – Central air is included!

Contact me at lydlo152@gmail.com for more details. We would like to “interview” you since you’ll be living in my room with my two best friends, but I promise it won’t be painful (we can do it with drinks to make everyone more comfortable!). We are looking for a young, professional female who is both fun and independent. I’ll need the first month’s deposit when we come to a living agreement.

I have more pics but posting my bedroom on Craigslist seemed super creepy so contact me for those!

Cheers!
novelwhore@gmail.com

Craigslist posting here

craigslist-apartment-posting
Pictures:
1. View from our living room window… No, it never gets old
2. Pool! I think this was a “staycation” work day; it’s typically more populated
3. North Avenue Beach – a ten minute stroll, of if you’re really lazy a five minute bus ride
4. Roomies on the pool deck – this could be you!!!

So a few days ago thanks to one of my Twitter friends (I don’t care if some of you think it’s pathetic, it’s become quite enjoyable!) I came across the New York Times article “Is This the Time to Chase a Career Dream?” by business coach Pamela Slim. She was surprisingly optimistic, saying  “People from all walks of life are realizing that a time of economic turmoil offers a great opportunity to reinvent careers.”  So this fueled my hope, even though I don’t think the worlds of advertising and publishing are totally dissimilar, it is definitely considered a new career category on LinkedIn (add me by the way, I’d love to be “linked” – Lydia Hirt).

As of Tuesday, I have been invited to follow my dream of publishing

My NYU Happy Dance

My NYU Happy Dance

all the way to New York University and take part in their Summer Publishing Institute! As of today, my deposit has been submitted (though I would appreciate a receipt of a reserved place, NYU!) and I am looking to book a flight MAY 30!!!!

I had been hesitant to share the application process since I didn’t decide to attempt this career path until a few weeks past application deadline, but whether the economy or my sparkling application (obviously the latter!), I’ve been accepted.  Beginning May 31, I will embark on an intense six weeks of class full-time in The Big Apple!  With three weeks focusing on magazine publishing and three weeks on book publishing, it’s a well rounded program that I believe will leave me with beneficial experience and skills. I’ve read awesome reviews about this program and spoken with graduates, all of which have served to even better convince me it’s a worthwhile investment.

Both exhilarated and terrified, I lay awake at night thinking of the possibilities and stressing about packing.  Not to mention missing two months of Chicago’s summer (especially painful when I think of the swimming pool on my roof!) and leaving my friends, but I have the highest hopes this opportunity leads me where I want to go – launching a career in Publishing.

I really only have four friends in NYC and none of them hang out with each other: A girlfriend recently transplanted from CT with few contacts, a close guy friend who’s a busy med student, a rapper whom I doubt I would fit in with his “crew” and a girlfriend living in London for three months (I guess she doesn’t even count).  So send friends my way, I accept charity!

PS: I need a subleaser for Chicago June 1 – July 19, any suggestions/contacts?!?  Sweet apartment, two amazing female roommates, a pool on the roof and an amazing view from the 24th floor – any takers?!

I love MediaBistro.com.  I follow them on Twitter and visit their site daily, scanning their job boards and drooling all over the “Senior Publicist” and “Managing Editor” positions available in NYC, wishing  I were qualified to apply.

In an effort to further expand my repertoire of skills (though unfortunately still far below CEO level), I have signed up for MediaBistro’s “Copywriting Essentials” class taking place in Chicago on Wednesday, April 29.   With the subtitle “Write marketing and branding copy that sells in a lucrative market”, I hope to learn skills that will make me more capable of branding a book or an author as a product; a commodity consumers need.

Visit MediaBistro.com for details!

Visit MediaBistro.com for details!

Join me in the class! For details/sign up click this link: http://www.mediabistro.com/courses/cache/crs4472.asp

As a special deal, if you sign up by April 23, 2009 I discovered a promo code (APRIL25)  for 25% off, making this $65 class only $49 (affordable even to an unemployed person like myself!  I’m a little nervous to go on my own and would love the company, so please accept my personal invite and register already.

As I finally got around to uploading photos from January to current on Facebook, I realized that 2009 has already been a year to remember (although I don’t look photogenic in any of the moments!).

Yes, it’s true I have joined the ranks of the unemployed, but I’ve also been motivated and inspired to follow my dreams of launching a career in book publishing, started this blog which has become quite an enjoyable hobby, begun to really appreciate Chicago and all it offers, been to my first Bulls game, Cocokey Resort with three of my best friends, had the #1 bracket in my pool as of NOW (sorry, MSU, I bet correctly that UNC would pull off the win), started a volunteer relationship with a worthwhile organization (<3 to you, Open Books), been blessed with a baby nephew, and been lucky enough to have the love, support and enjoyment of a wonderful family and system of friends.

Alright, fine, I may be a little tipsy from watching the pathetic game that MSU just played, but I am thankful for all this year has already brought (I cannot believe Easter is this Sunday – time has flown by) and all it promises in the future.  I hope you all enjoyed my Miller Lite induced ramblings (potentially found some inspiration yourself?), but hopefully this little nugget will serve as a reminder for the important things next time I get frustrated when job searching or waiting for spring to come to  Chicago.

Heading home on the train tomorrow, looking forward to some quality MI time with the family and good books, while curled up in my favorite chair!  Hopefully book reviews to come shortly… Hitting the “publish” button before I can overthink and delete this…

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