Mail

I’m ignoring the strange amount of alt country that’s suddenly on the blog by going through my mail bag with you. This is a sampling from the past three weeks.

Pamie,

I know you have been busy, but I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned that Johnny Depp was named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2003. Finally, the rest of the world caught on to his sexy goodness. Although, I have to complain that Johnny had to share the cover with Bachelor Bob, who will NEVER be considered Sexiest Anything.

All this waiting and having to share the spotlight with Bachelor Bob. It is so wrong.

Rhonda

PS – I am writing at 4 AM because I have a 4 month old baby who thinks its time to play. sigh.

I never read People Magazine (except when I’m in it), so I don’t get too attached to their declarations of Sexiest Human. It’s like how I feel about the Golden Globes. The only reason I care about Johnny Depp’s win here is that they put him in the ugliest blue flannel shirt for the shoot. He’s wearing it again in Rolling Stone. It appears to be fresh from the package, and perhaps still stuck with cardboard around the collar. It’s not the Johnny Depp I prefer staring at me from a magazine (like the Premiere that Tara bought me over the summer. He was smoking and playing the piano. That’s what a Johnny Depp picture is supposed to do).

I feel like Johnny’s rise to Sexiest status this year is a little like when everyone started talking about that Radiohead band and their little song “Karma Police” and how they might be pretty good.

pam,

i have just started reading Why Girls Are Weird this evening, but i am already intrigued and very interested to see where it goes. i started reading and didn’t put it down until 3 hours later. anyway, i saw that you have a website and figured i would check it out. i found it very amusing that your cat’s name is taylor as well. anyhow, i love writing and would love to be an author someday. i actually have about 2 journals at home i write in frequently and an online journal as well. but if you could give me any tips on writing or anything of the sort, that would be fabulous!

take it easy and have a great thanksgiving! hope to hear from you soon!

sincerely,
susie olson

Yeah, I’m a little behind in my email. Sorry, Susie. And thanks for reading my book. It’s great that you’re finding it such a quick read.

People often write asking for writing tips, or publishing tips. I really don’t have any kind of secret formula. Here’s all I know about writing.

1. You have to do it every day. Not only that, but you have to WANT to write every day. If it seems like a chore, or if it fills you with dread and fear and panic attacks, then maybe it’s not the job for you. Those feelings are why I stopped working in a cubicle. Weekly staff meetings would feel me with such stomach-dropping dread that I knew I had to get out of there.

2. Take Every Opportunity, and Don’t Waste People’s Time. I put that one in capital letters because seriously, it’s probably the only way you’ll get things done. If someone offers you a hand or advice or a chance at something, take it. Don’t fuck around with people offering help, or giving advice. Nobody has to do anything for you, and more importantly — nobody’s going to do it for you. If you want it, you have to do something to get it.

3. I am not the right person to read your writing and tell you my opinion. You should have people who you trust and know, who can sit with you over a cup of coffee and go over whatever you’ve written and talk frankly about any changes that need to be made. I don’t know you well enough to coach you through this important part of your writing process.

4. It doesn’t just “happen” and when it does nothing will be solved. I’m also learning that it doesn’t necessarily get easier, either. I never liked it when things were easy, anyway.

But Susie’s already on her way because she’s writing all the time, everywhere. I didn’t ever say I was going to be a writer when I grew up, but I’ve got stacks and stacks of pages of stories, bad poems and letters I’ve written. My first diary was when I was five. So maybe I wasn’t aware of it, but it was something I always did my entire life.

First of all, I went to the Amazon site and found your book and told them what was up about Why Girls Are Weird.

Second, we’re having a crisis in “The Short Story” at school. Wednesday writer Ron Carlson spoke to our class and said that he doesn’t write for theme and neither should we. When we discussed his lecture today in class, a number of us had a problem accepting the fact that we (English Literature majors) couldn’t write for theme because it is our nature to identify the theme and purpose of the story. I have decided that writing for theme just means that you don’t sit down and go “I’m going to write a story about how society pigeon-holes our potential,” but you can still know a theme in your story after you say, “I’m going to write about the time I was stuck on an overpass and freaked out.”

Still, we are polling college professors and writers we can get a hold of and asking whether they write for theme or story. So, Pamie, when you sat down to write Why Girls Are Weird, did you write with the theme of (what I think is) coming to know yourself or did you just want to write a story about a girl who posted a webpage and then a bunch of funny things happened? It’s not urgent and I know you’re very busy, but thanks for replying (when you get time – no pressure!) I really loved your novel and presented it to my Novel class. They want to read it, even the guy who hates all forms of “chick lit” (we once had a discussion about how “chick lit” is always pink and has shoes on the cover. He was happy your book is orange.)

Thanks again!

~Annie

Thank the guy who hates chick lit for me, Annie.

I met the father of one of my friends. I was introduced as “The one with the book.” He turned to me, put his hands on his hips and asked loudly, “What is the theme?”

All of my friends left the room, and I was struggling with an answer. “It’s sort of about uh, a how we create our own realities, our own identities, and in this present culture, with the Internet, we can control how people see us. Kind of.”

Then he went, “So is there chatting in this book? With chat rooms?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And does the protagonist come to a resolution, or have you left it intentional ambiguous?”

“There’s a resolution concerning the theme.”

“Sounds like a great book, young lady.”

But when I sat down to write this book, I don’t think I knew right away what the theme would be, other than I wanted to discuss the quarter-life crisis, and I had to find a way to fictionalize my experiences with pamie.com and the journaling community. I’m sure I already knew what themes would “organically” come up. I use the word “organically” here with quotation marks because I hate that word and I hate using it, but I’m on my second glass of wine and I’m feeling particularly arty-farty with this round of email.

The answer to your question, Annie, is I did both at the same time. It’s the only way I know how to tell a story.

Hi Pamela,

I just finished, “Why girls are Weird” and loved it. I’ve been on a chick book jag…I figured that this is a way to understand chicks better (i.e. get them into bed). I’ve recently read, “Good in Bed” and “An Italian Affair”. You should promote your book as a great way to meet woman. I was reading your book on a plane last week and probably had 5 woman ask me about it. I immediately refer them to “how to fake a football orgasm” and it really gets them going.

Anyway, thanks for the chick insight and the laughs…you really are talented. I’ve gotten 4 people to read (more importantly for you buy) the book already.

If you get a chance, check out my web site. I’ve been a magazine publisher for 20 years and now I teach seminars around the country to other magazine publishers.

Cheers,

Carl

P.S. I love your use of the P.S. My first job out of college was with a direct mail company and I quickly learned that the P.S. is the most read part of a letter / e-mail. I really promote that in my seminar.

P.P.S. P.P.S. really work too! Although, I’ve never gone beyond P.P.S….too dangerous.

Thanks, Carl. P.P.P.S. — I hope you got laid.

So this year for Christmas, my whole family — all my sisters and my mother and their respective mates and children, and unencumbered me — are gathering at my sister Dara’s house in Virginia. It is the first time we will all be in the same place at the same time since Dara’s wedding 2 1/2 years ago. If you take into account my 6-month-old nephew, it is the first time ever. Needless to say, this is a very big deal for us, one I am kind of surprised we are managing to pull off.

Anyway, due to the largeness of the gathering, my sisters decided that for grown-up gifts, we should do a Secret Santa, so my sister Dara wrote down all the adults’ names on pieces of paper, folded them, mailed them out. Even she doesn’t know who got whom. It is at this point in the story that people usually figure out where it is headed. It did not occur to me, however, until the day the envelope with my giftee arrived. Prior, I had fretted that I would get the name of, say, my Oklahoma brother-in-law. What would I possibly get him? I barely know him. The day the envelope was to arrive, though, I thought, “What if I get my own name? Oh my gosh, I am totally going to get my own name. I just know it.”

Sure enough…

OK, here is where this story is of any remote interest to you. I decided it would cause less family consternation and would be funnier if I bought gifts for myself, wrapped them in the same paper in which I wrap the kids’ presents, and see if anyone notices. I decided to buy what I would expect someone else to buy for me; namely, books. So I was in my store of choice, A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in San Francisco, and they had one copy of your book on the shelf. One! And, well, I bought it. Now they have none. Sorry. Maybe my puchase will influence them to order more?

Anyway, I look forward to reading it on the plane flight home.

Happy holidays.

Thanks, Lisa. I suppose you did keep the receipt, so if you end up not liking your present you can always return it. Thanks for buying out one store in SF. I do appreciate it.

I’ve yet to see someone reading my book at an airport. I’ve only flown a couple of times since the book came out, but I do obsessively check the bookstores and everything because I’m a dorky spaz. I’m flying to Houston tomorrow. Here’s hoping.

hi pamela, umm….

yeah i’m in the middle of your reading your book “why girls are weird” it’s the most awesome book ever i mean, you total capture the stages.. and just everything girls go through in life, like i can totally relate to it. and all the stuff in the book you know about dale & ian? is all that true? because i’ve gone through some of the same things. letting go is the hardest thing to do. but anyways. your book is awesome. byeee

-Cb.

I probably get asked once a week in an email if I know someone just like Dale, or if Ian is a real person, or if my dad is really dead.

In my Television Without Pity account:

Ms P.

The thing I find saddest about efforts like coff*ClaytonWhoWouldBeTarzan*coff and other butcheries of the legends that have entertained imaginations for generations, is when the smoke clears on the tv land killing ground, the VPs are not going to blame the insulting and completely screwed up versions they reworked without any respect for what made the stories popular in the first place.

The blamestorming will target the original legends as not being fit for “serious” audiences , making them nuclear waste for any production company coming along trying to sell a -decent- version. That’s the real insult to me.

You can see the same incomprehensible reworking effort in the film world as well, when you read how the brains behind the Fantastic Four effort are publically leaking grey matter out their mouths with statements on how they want their effort “grounded in reality” ie: Johnny Storm, aka “The Human Torch”, should only torch up his fingers, not his entire body. If they want to recruit an actor whose features wouldn’t be hidden behind CGI flame effects, they could just say so without the flimflam. Fan reaction has been promptly unkind to the driveling proclamation, but the fact it even saw the light of day is indicative of the film art industry’s non ability to get past buzz words like “young and sexy” and “grounded in reality” to actual thinking scripts working within limitations of a mythology.

I’d like to believe I’m over interpreting, but I suspect P.T. Barnum’s Philosophy is in full force.

Keep battling.

Nancy

P.S. My condolences on being betrayed by your loved ones during the final episode. Hopefully turkey salved the wounds.

Never underestimate the power of a Tarzan fan.

And:

Why is there no more recaps for QaF after the second season? Just wondering, cause I dont have HBO, and I rely on the recaps to get my fill of gay boys. It would be great if you could tell me why did they stop after 2nd season. From a fan, Rebecca

Once a week I get a letter about Young Americans or Queer as Folk.

We stopped recapping after the third season of QaF because it was the right thing to do.

See?

I loved the show Young Americans. Are there anywhere that the episodes could be bought, like on DVD or VHS? Thanks for any help you could give me

Sami

The WB is sitting on a goldmine, I tell you.

Hi Pamie,

Major fan of your writing here in the snow-filled suburbs of Boston. When I read about your efforts with the book drive in May I thought it was a wonderful idea. I have been a library groupie (if there is such a thing!) since I was a little kid. I frequently had to be dragged out of our public library by my Mother (who is a big reader herself but also a busy Mom) we would pull up to the library so I could return something and she would tell me “look, we have errands to run so just go in and return your books. There’s isn’t time to look for new books right now. DON’T MAKE ME COME IN THERE TO FIND YOU! And of course, she always did. So, I wanted to contribute when I heard about the book drive but money was tight due to my status as an underemployed doctoral student and my boyfriend’s status as a laid-off research scientist. Happily, after 9 months he is now both employed and my newly-minted fianc and I have gone on a donation binge all over the internet. I just spoke with a wonderfully helpful woman at Cody’s Books and a copy of the very funny Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell them by Al Franken is on the way to the OPL. She also told me that they are accepting books for a drop-in center so an 11-year old girl who is interested in nursing will be getting a copy of The Midwife’s Apprentice.

Jennifer

Nothing says “We’re getting married” like donating books to Oakland. Thanks, Jennifer!

Dear Ms. Ribon of pamie.com:

I’ve been reading your website since I was directed there via the Pound website, the weight-watchers cards, and a radio interview with the creator of said site. In other words, I’ve been reading since early spring. Obviously I was instantly hooked.

When I initially read about the Oakland book drive on your site I thought that’s something I really should do. Of course I put it off and figured one day I’d get around to sending them some books. That day is today.

The following is the tedious and potentially boring back story of why and how I purchased books for the Oakland Library – Please feel free to skip this part.

Until tonight I’d never purchased anything from amazon.com in my life. As I said, I’d been thinking for a long time about buying books for the Oakland Library. (I knew a girl in college from Oakland. She was a nursing student, really cool, and we hung out one summer during which she told me about Oakland and such. So if nothing else this donation is in her honor.)

Anyway. In my usual way I was procrastinating.

Then this past weekend I got a call from my sister. She wanted me to buy something for her to give to her boyfriend for Christmas. Her boyfriend is a big computer guy and intent on discovering what his gift is before it is given. He intended to track down whatever my sister got him if she ordered it online (by restoring/un-erasing any history files etc.) Now, the gift she wanted to give him is available for half price on Amazon.com. To outsmart her boyfriend she asked me to order it for her through amazon, thereby avoiding any trace of the transaction on her computer. Tonight is the night I chose to purchase this gift for her and thus, the first time I’d ever been to Amazon.com. Meanwhile, after I read your entry about going to Barnes & Noble and finding your book had been shipped back to the publisher, I found myself in my local Barnes & Noble and on a whim started looking to see if they had your book in stock. As I started looking for your book, I was approached by a very pleasant sales associate who offered her help in finding anything. So I asked if they had your book. She looked it up and said they had 17 copies. After a fruitless search through the shelves, she went to the back room to look. She returned with the news that all their copies had been shipped back to the publisher, but she could order one for me if I wanted. I couldn’t very well say no after she spent all that time looking (and there weren’t any shipping fees or anything). Suffice it to say that a few days later they called me to say my order had arrived and I went in and dutifully purchased your book. (It was there, it was only $12.99, I’d read so much about it, How could I not buy it?!?)

To get on with it. I read your book and though it was hilarious. Then I got to the back part with the interview and again the OPL book drive was mentioned. Again I felt a bit guilty for procrastinating. Again the whole book drive thing was fresh in my memory. So when my sister called and said ‘Order this thing for me on Amazon’ – I thought ‘what a perfect opportunity to finally order some books for Oakland.’ So I did. This is the end of the long back story part that is boring and tedious…

So for the Piedmont Avenue Branch of the Oakland Public Library – I’m sending:

1 “The World According to Mr. Rogers” by Fred Rogers (because it’s Mr. Rogers! How can you go wrong with that?! You can’t!)

1 “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand (a book which saved me and made me look really cool for an assignment I had in college revolving around the first paragraph of a book and how it’s supposed to draw you in to the rest of the book if it’s done right. I still remember the entire first paragraph of this book: “Who is John Gault.” The assignment involved reading the paragraph out loud to the class and I felt like the mac-daddy of opening paragraphs after reading that line and promptly sitting down. Especially when the professor gave me the nod of approval!)

1 “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (Nothing like a subversive, banned book. Mostly I couldn’t believe they didn’t have a copy already, but also it got me up to the free shipping limit.)

So there you go. Chalk up another 3 books for the book drive. I’m not certain I filled everything out right to establish that this donation was a direct result of your website, but as long as it gets on your list, that’s enough for me. (Like I said before, I’m a first time Amazon.com user.) Here’s hoping to breaking the 700 book mark by the end of the year.

Thanks again for doing what you do and doing it exceptionally well. Sincerely, -Joe.

P.S. Now I’m thinking I should donate to HYD for Christmas also – are they still collecting / wish-listing for stuff that was b’d in the f.?

P.P.S. Yes you make me laugh.

P.P.P.S. Especially since you have a crush on me. Heh heh. (If you knew me, you’d think that was funny too.)

I’ve never read the Mr. Rogers book, but the other two are two of my favorite books. Thanks, Joe. And yes, Al and Chris certainly haven’t restored their home back to what it was. In fact, Chris is getting a bit misty over lost possessions lately.

Dear Ms. Ribon,

But you like Gilmore Squirrels (you admitted it). What an hour-long yabber jabber shit-talk-fest that show is. My respect for and enjoyment of TWoP just dissipated by about 65%. You can trust I wont be reading anything more by Pamie.

Regards,

George M. Mosher
Fort Worth, Texas

I couldn’t resist. I wrote back.

Sir,

Why that particular percentage?

-p

To which he responded:

Ma’am,

Actually, I wrote “about 65%.” That could be 64.73% or 65.168% or even 66-1/2%. 65% is roughly equal to 2/3 (I say “roughly”-as you may well know, 2/3 is approximately 66.666666666666666666666666667%). It seemed somehow better than, say, 1/2 or 4/5 or 1/10 or 2745/3843 or whatever. Any percentage significantly greater than 50 would probably have done as well (62%, 71%, thereabouts; 65 being a nice, round number, though) to connote the overall reduction in my respect for and enjoyment of TWoP. In any event, I kind of just picked 65%. Now, I’m only an idiot to a small degree (and that only some of the time) and I realize that my dislike for Gilmore Squirrels (the TV show) and my, shall we say, mild suspicion of the taste of persons who find some pleasure in it (which, by the way, must be a significant part of the population, else WB probably wouldn’t have renewed the thing) doesn’t count a whit in the overall scheme of things and won’t at all peruade you to change your opinion of the show or your non-criticism of Gilmore Squirrels (in particular) nor of TWoP’s non-criticism “reviews” of TV shows (in general). So, since (in other and far fewer words) my opinion will very likely not have an effect on what I see on TWoP, I believe I’m about 65% done with it. Waddayknow-I can yabber-jabber shit-talk almost as good as the bimbos on that show.

George

Jealous yet?

i stumbled upon your book at a Virgin Megastore when i got bored looking at dvd’s. my roommate went upstairs to look for books of music (voice major, she is), and i went on a book cover hunt for something that would strike me the way The Lovely Bones did. i saw a woman with a bag on her head and i HAD to pick it up. “Why Girls Are Weird.” i was delighted so i picked it up and didn’t put it down for at least 45 minutes…

but i ventured online to find out a little more about you and see what else was on your professional agenda. AND i’m confused….i’ll get right to the point. Taylor is real….your Texas native….ness is real, right? So is Anna Koval really you or is she entirely fictional? is she extremely like you, so it’s almost semi-fiction? i’d be pretty devasted is Dale wasn’t real because I LOVE DALE. he’s everything i wish i had in a friend. rawr, and so i’m just wondering is Anna is a direct parallel or if she’s just a fun lady you manifested for your awesome book.

also : you look ENTIRELY different in pictures on your website than you do in the picture at the end of your book. in the book you look 35 and motherly. on the internet you’re 20 and blonde. in the book you were blonde but…the only image i had was your glamour-shot-looking portrait. WHY did i point that out? who knows! i’m sure you know what you look like. how bout that.

please, if you can find the time, satisfy my curiosity and let me know about whether or not Anna Koval is entirely fictional or not. and feel free to tell me which, if any, of the other characters are real.

She said other very nice things, but I just wanted to show you guys I wasn’t kidding earlier.

Hello there Pamela. I stumbled upon this site with this editorial type article with the rant about the three words that you dislike so much it seems. And you know what? (whoops) I have never thought of it the way that you see it.

I hear that phrase a lot too. I never have thought of it as rude though. Maybe some say it with a tone and it comes out sounding that way. Maybe you just hear it that way. I know most people don’t mean to have “the words” mean that you know nothing, you don’t matter, you suck. I don’t know. I say it sometimes too. I’m pretty sure no one has thought I was rude when I spit out those three words of assholitry. By the way, I applaud you for making up a new word in assholitry or at least one that I’ve never heard. I thought somewhere in your article you would have at least one alternative to those three words. I can’t think of any myself. Maybe like “Guess What?” I just see “you know what” as something to say when you have something to say. It’s just a very common thing you hear. Some people don’t like when kids and teens or whatever say “like” or “or something” every other word. Or they thing it makes them sound dumb. I read your bio. Pretty impressive. Writer, author, ranter. A triple threat. And I’m sure you’re a funny person. I used to believe people like Jerry Lewis when they said that women aren’t funny. They also can’t drive. That’s my own personal observation. Nowadays I think women are funny. But they still can’t drive. “That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”- Dennis Miller

That read like an ad for the Internet, doesn’t it?

Pamie,

This is Jeremy again; I write you sometimes (and sometimes you even write back :). I was just reading your list of things to get and may suggest some of them to my girlfriend, although I think the Bitch Magazine might be a little over the top for her. But to my point. A little over a year ago a bunch of my friend sand I were complaining that having wishlists of stuff we wanted at tons of different online stores really sucked. So, being the geek that I am, I wrote a wishlist website that lets people build their own lists of stuff that they can give out to people and maintain without selling their soul to any one online store. Reading your entry made me think you might be interested (or even some of your readers). It is at http://wishlist.confusticate.com and even better, it is free :)

Thanks for the fun stuff and I hope you find the site useful.

-Jeremy

Okay. That’s the mailbag. I’ve finished my glass of wine and it’s very late. I have a flight to catch tomorrow.

I’ll be blog updating on the road, so those of you afraid of the blog should just start getting better acquainted. It’s much easier for updating on the go.

Love you all. Happy holidays.

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