Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Goodbye and Hello

Remember how I used to post two, even three times a day on this blog?  Well two things happened.  First, I had to write an entire book.  Second, I had to create a NEW blog, suitable for a Big Name Author (tm), and I haven't wanted to launch it until it's all pretty and stuff.

But dammit, I have to sort of "prelaunch" now, because I have to announce a few news items, even though I don't have a thing to wear and my hair is a mess, virtually speaking.  

So I am officially abandoning THIS blog--not even maintaining the pretense anymore--and blogging exclusively at my new site, (no "www"). Link your RSS feed or aggregator or whatever it's called to the new site.  

It contains all my old posts, only this time they're nicely organized so that with a single tab press you can see all my vocabulary poems, or all my bar napkin cartoons, and so on.  Another nice feature: all my long posts should automatically cut themselves.  Aside from that, there's not much to it yet and it's not even as pretty as I'd like.  But it will be expanding.  

In the meantime, go there!  You'll know you've found it if you see the post that reads:

I've been putting off the official launch of this new version of my blog because I don't feel it's ready yet.  No author photo, no link to my book, no press kit, no calendar, et cetera.  But I'm between two big events and I need to announce it in some way.  So forgive the hasty look of the place.  I just moved in.  

First off, my story, "A Flash of Hope," is the story of the week on the wonderful Moth Podcast, available on iTunes at this page:  The Moth Podcast is often the #1 podcast in the country (up there with This American Life, Car Talk, and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me), so I'm thrilled to be on display.  And they mention my book!  (Some of you may know this story by the title I usually give it, "The Most Heartwarming Wet T-Shirt Contest Ever."  They needed something shorter.)

In other news--bigger but more localized--I'm opening for David Sedaris at FSU in Tallahassee on Thursday....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pop Culture Reference Question...I think

I'll be starting up the new version of my website very soon.  (I have to label everything properly so it organizes; my new site's got TABS!)  But until then I thought I'd ask a simple question.  I saw this snippet from Slate's review of "I Love You, Man":

"Their early encounters, in which Peter struggles to emulate Sydney's effortless cool, make for the movie's best moments: When Syd casually nicknames him 'Pistol' after their first night out, the best Pete can counter with is 'Catch you later...Jobin.'"  

Someone's going to have to explain this to me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


On Monday I'm intending to send off a check for my first-ever American Crossword Puzzle Tournament as a competitor.  (I've crashed twice to see friends, but I've never actually competed in my life.)  

Question: I was given to understand that there was a sort of off-the-menu option to attend the Tournament without going to, or paying for, the meals.  I like this option better, but it's not on the official sheet.  If I'm a competitor, going to everything, but skipping the meals, how much will this cost me?  

In any event, I look forward to seeing a lot of you this upcoming weekend.  Hooray!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In Lieu of a Christmas Letter...

...Here's a quick, last-chance summary of the year.  Which can't help but be a tad self-indulgent.  But a lot of friends are contacting me through Facebook.  This will help bring them up to speed.

The year didn't start well:  In mid-January I got fired from my crossword editing job.  It wasn't a sure thing at first--I had just really screwed up and knew I was in trouble--but my friend Tracy said, "I hope they fire you.  Your job is the only thing you ever complain about.  It could be the best thing that ever happened to you."  

Turns out she was right.  By very great luck I was able to stay rent-free in Brooklyn for three months while I collected unemployment and tried out Plan B.  (The friend, Jocelyn, was doing an extended stint with Habitat for Humanity.)  I spent January and February working on my book proposal for How to Love God Without Being a Jerk, and adjusting to the life of a writer:  I began working out every day on my bike.  I began to cook, and to eat heathily and carefully.  (I also stopped drinking; turns out I'm slightly allergic.)  [Side note: I also decided, thanks to Netflix, to watch every major film noir there was, at a rate of roughly one a day.  I am now pretty much an expert on the genre.]

On March 18th I sent out my proposal, and immediately got a response from an agent who said, "I can't sell this, but I like your writing.  What else have you got?"  I then sent him the proposal for my Kansas City memoir, and he bit.  On March 21st (Easter!) I got my agent, Adam Chromy, who has been absolutely amazing.  How amazing was proved in only a few weeks.

On April 1st, I made the rounds to several different publishers, and on Monday of the following week, the book had gone to auction.  By April 6th, I had a book deal for enough money to actually live on for a while.  (At least temporarily.  I'm returning to work once I'm done with the writing and touring part.)   My life changed instantly.  It still makes me dizzy to think of it.

So I spent April actually writing the book and waiting for the contract.  In April I stayed with my stalwart friend Tracy, who was away with Habitat for Humanity.  (If you ever need to couch-surf, go to the Habitat for Humanity chat rooms.  I have references now!)

In May I moved to my amazingly generous friend Sherry's country house way out in the Hudson Valley, still waiting for the contract, still writing and exercising and eating well.  I lost weight.  I had to buy new clothes, and Tracy helped me buy clothes that actually fit.  (Part of this weight loss may have been nervousness: I only had unemployment money through mid-July.)  So I spent all summer in the Hudson Valley, writing and waiting around, and FINALLY, at the end of June, I got the contract.  In July, I got the first part of my money.  Thank god for unemployment insurance.  It lasted exactly as long as I needed it.  

In August I took my current apartment in the East Village, but I couldn't move in because I was finishing the book and a move would have thrown me off.  I finished the rough draft at the end of August, and spent September moving in.

It was weird, moving, because it turns out that, after years of being other peoples' roommate, I didn't really own anything for living on my own.  I actually had to buy plates, and cups, and salt, and a bed and a desk and so on.  And I made a number of impulsive errors that I will improve on next time I move.  Moving is surprisingly exhausting, and I wasn't able to return to the manuscript (draft 2) until the end of the month, when I fixed it up and turned it in.

So I am now finally living the life I've always wanted: a self-supporting writer (for now, at least) living in Manhattan.  I've also lost 25 pounds and three inches off my waist, which puts me in the best shape of my life--equal, roughly, to my freshman year of college.  I dress well, I smell nice, and I'm basically happier than I've ever been.  Also, Obama got elected, which is not only good for the country but it won me a long-standing bet.  So it's been a really, really, really good year.  

I just want to thank my agent, Adam Chromy, and my friends Jocelyn, Tracy, and Sherry, who saved my life when I really needed saving.  Thanks also to the Moth and the New York storytelling community, without whom I would never have met all the friends who sustained me this past year.  (This also means big thanks to the amazing Cyndi Freeman, who introduced me to the storytelling scene in the first place.)  And of course, huge enormous thanks to Ira Glass and everyone at This American Life, who are a total delight to work with.  It's been crazy busy, but I'll get something in this year; I promise.

In 2009, I'm eying a move (in August) to someplace in Brooklyn with a little more room.  (i.e., something large enough to have office space I can deduct from my taxes...and small enough that the tax savings are comparatively impressive.)  And I'll have finished my book and begun starting on the next one.  Aside from that, I'm actually daring to hope that 2009 might even be better than 2008.  And that, just possibly, things keep improving from here.  

Happy New Year, y'all!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Baffling Things Overheard in New York

Guy passing me on the street talking to his male friend: "She'll get over it.  She's dating a Mexican."

Friday, December 26, 2008

I Think I've Found My New Nickname

Found in a vending machine in a laundromat in northwest Tucson.  Kalil is the local bottling company, so I doubt this stuff is found outside Arizona.  But look--the DR has a period!  It's about time one of these soft drinks stood up for proper punctuation.